Ashely Siana, Policy Coordinator Intern of the U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce (U.S.G.C.C.) was selected to participate in the Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s Coral Reef Internship (CCMI) through Rutgers’s University at Little Cayman. As an intern at the field station, Siana learned that “the importance of local resources is so prominently linked to the local economy that the efforts to support these resources cannot be stressed enough”. Learning advanced reef identification and the scientific methods to monitor coral reefs, Siana applied these techniques to conduct an independent project on the effectiveness of Little Cayman’s marine protected areas, and contributed to CCMI’s mission to sustain biodiversity and coral reefs through research and education.
“The U.S. Green Chamber of Commerce is proud to be comprised of global citizens who are able to realize sustainability issues on a worldly scale and welcome their ability to bring sustainable innovation back to the U.S. Green Chamber from other non-profits, such as CCMI, in other counties,” says Michelle Thatcher, CEO of U.S.G.C.C..
Siana’s time in Little Cayman included an island wide beach clean up. In just a few hours, the group collected 1,000 pounds of trash that had washed up from the ocean itself, onto the beaches of the Island. As Siana says, ”the environment is of constant concern and everyone’s consciousness is inundated with efforts to conserve the area’s resources and biodiversity”.
The efforts to which Siana refers include the donation of five cents per bottle sold of White Tip, a local beer from CayBrew Brewery, to the Cayman Islands Sharks and Cetaceans Project of the Cayman Department of Environment. Local restaurants have even taken to include the invasive Lionfish species onto their menus.
Experiencing the logistics and culture of living on a 10×1 mile long island dependent on fisheries and coral reefs, which are increasingly threatened by development, overfishing and climate change, was an invoking experience for Siana. “The island acts as a constant reminder that so much of the environment, particularly the ocean, remains a mystery that we must work to conserve and use economically if we wish we learn from it”, states Siana. “This is an idea that we must apply to the rest of our world”.