My name is Kim Ley-Cooper, Co-founder of Razonatura, born in Mexico from an Australian Mother with British parents and a Mexican father with mixed Chinese and Mexican-Mayo indigenous origins which enabled me and my brother to see and get to know many ocean corners of this world. Barbara is Italian and mother to my children which results in quite a mix, and just like the water which flows around the world, to me they symbolize the result of connectivity between the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans with a fusion of Mediterranean, Adriatic and Caribbean Sea, hence the meanings of their names “Kai”-(Ocean) and “Keani”-(waves/wind). Having blood from just about all continents and being a mix of cultural flavors, I was brought up to try to be as free as the ocean water, without frontiers and borders except those imposed by nature itself. I recognize this has its ups and downs just like waves do, but also gives a sense to life and theory. Although I study the physical effects derived from different factors such as temperatures, wind, currents and salinities which drive the biological dynamics of barrier reefs, I am more aware of the anthropogenic effects we have upon the living ocean, and our urgent need to act upon these. For these reasons, scientific studies and conservation are my passions, my conviction, and my work.
After years of working in the rural field and sea, with the people in developing countries such as Mexico and those of the Mesoamerican Reef, I can only foresee success in conservation stories where sustainable development satisfies the basic needs of the people and the resource(s) they depend on. The balance between dealing with poverty alleviation and sustaining the life cycles of any fished resource stands on a very fine line. The latter is what the Chakay project is all about, trying to help the local communities that depend economically on the lobster fisheries to get and add value to their commercial product. This is done while improving fishing practices, increasing recruitment and reducing exploitation rates and fishing mortality.
The frequently asked question is: how is this possible? Although there is not just one easy answer, staring with some simple rules defined by the Chakay eco-label and the MSC certification principles are some first steps which need to be taken and must be recognized. While many actions do depend upon direct stakeholders, there is always something EVERYONE ELSE can do! That is:
1) support the research we do in RAZONATURA in conjunction with several other institutions; 2) help conservation programs like our own and the MAR Leadership; and
3) if you must enjoy a lobster on your plate, make sure it is legally caught, sustainable and eco-labeled.
I want to thank all funding agencies, fishery cooperatives, academic colleagues, NGO´s and governmental institutions which we have collaborated with us in this project and CauseCentric Productions and MAR Leadsership Program. My appreciation goes to Céline Cousteau and Çapkin who created the video about this work, shared their views and artistic interpretation of the project. I will list a few collaborators without any order in particular: all members of RAZONATURA, Integradora de Pescadores de Q Roo, Cooperativas Pesqueras Cozumel, Vigía Chico, Langosteros del Caribe, José María Azcorra, Andrés Quintana Roo, Pescadores de Banco Chinchorro, Federación de Coops Q Roo, CONABIO, CONANP, UNAM, CURTIN University, Western Australian Fisheries Department, ECOSUR, MAR FUND, Summit foundation, FMCN, CONACYT, PNUD, Verde Ventures, COBI, WWF’Alcoa Fund, TNC, Fundación Hernandez, CONAPESCA-SAGARPA, all my new mates of MAR Leadership Program, Alianza Kanan Kay. There are many people that should be mentioned, yet there are over 300 fishermen and their families, along with many colleagues that should be recognized – and though this list would not fit this space, they have my gratitude.
Watch CauseCentric Production’s short film, “Sustainable Lobsters? – How a Program Sustains a Community and Ecosystem”, which highlights Kim’s work!