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IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Advancing knowledge and cooperation for a healthy ocean and prosperous society

Children and youth’s voices for ocean

“In the future, we hope that the Nosoko sea, as well as seas all around the world, will be filled with lots of fish and seagrasses.” said Shinji Delage, a 12-year-old school student from the Nosoko Elementary School in Okinawa, Japan, at the 2nd UN Ocean Decade Regional Conference & 11th WESTPAC International Marine Science Conference on the afternoon of 25th April 2024 in Bangkok, Thailand.

The dedication of students from the Nosoko Elementary School was recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation at the Conference, held from 22-25 April 2024, Bangkok, Thailand.

Since 2008, as part of their curriculum, students of Nosoko Elementary School have been monitoring the flourishing of tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) around the Ishigaki Island. This island, their home, is  also home to a substantial colony of tape seagrass, a type of large seagrass native to coastal waters in the Western Pacific that provides shelter and food to a diverse array of marine life. 

Tragically, since 2020, the tape seagrass population has experienced a significant decline due to overgrazing by green turtles.  Witnessing this decline spurred the students into action. They initiated the seagrass conservation project, expanded their observation activities into a wider scale of attempts from seagrass reproduction at school, to the interaction with local communities with the support of researchers and private sectors.  Additionally, they launched a crowdfunding campaign in partnership with private sectors to construct and place large mesh cages over the areas of struggling seagrass beds to prevent sea turtle from eating too much tape seagrass.

We firmly believe children and youth have the creativity, and the potential to make positive changes happen, for themselves, for their communities, and for the rest of the world. We further call upon governmental agencies, research institutes, international organizations and private sectors to collaborate with the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) in empowering children and youth with ocean knowledge and skills to safeguard our ocean for a sustainable future.

Shinji further articulated, “The future we want is where the ocean, land, and people coexist in harmony”.