DCMS students Dimitri Rolle and Siddhira Johnson  discuss the need for sustainable fisheries in The Bahamas. A town hall meeting was held on May 15 at the South Eleuthera Mission. This meeting was organized by Deep Creek Middle School students who formed a Sustainable Fisheries team: Dimitri Rolle, Oriana Carey, and Sidhira Johnson. Dimitri was the leader of the group. He is particularly passionate about overfishing and sustainable fisheries, and he decided, with the group, that gathering community members to talk about the issue would be a great way to learn about the issues and explore some solutions.

The meeting was the culmination of their DCMS community outreach project. These students took the initiative to plan this meeting, and there was a great turnout, with over 30 young people attending.

Claire Thomas talks about conch overfishing.

The night started with a presentation from Claire Thomas, who manages the Queen Conch Research Program at the Cape Eleuthera Institute. She talked about the problem of conch overfishing, specifically in the Bahamas, and then addressed some potential solutions to overfishing. After the presentation, Oriana and Sidhira divided the audience into three groups, and each group discussed a potential solution: a closed season for conch, a marine protected area, and a lionfish fishery. The idea for the discussion groups came from the DCMS Sustainable Fisheries team, and the discussions were lively, with a lot of participation from the audience.

When the groups came back together, one thing was clear- everyone agreed that we need to do something now to ensure that there are conch in the future. The discussion was followed by a presentation on overfishing by Dmitri, who engaged the audience with questions like, “Have you eaten conch and lobster lately?” and “do you want to be able to eat them in the future?”

The night ended with a delicious treat- lionfish! Lionfish are a great alternative to conch; as Dmitri pointed out, they are invasive, numerous, easy to catch, and good to eat.  Members of the CEI lionfish team handed out samples of fried lionfish, and everyone got to try. Overall, this was an important event, where the DCMS students were able to engage with members of the community in a meaningful way, and the night was a huge success