NAIROBI, Nov 26 2018 (IPS) – Marlin Archibold Howard, is a fisherwoman and hotel owner from Providencia, Colombia. Providencia is a remote and traditional Caribbean island. She actively participates in conservation of the oceans from which her livelihood depends. Howard was in Nairobi, Kenya today attending the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference where, international governments made commitments to developing a blue economy. Excerpts of the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): Your first name, Marlin, is unusual.

Marlin Archibold Howard (MAH): My parents, my father a fisherman named me.

IPS: Your father was a fisher, how long have you been fishing for?

MAH: Well I have been fishing since I was small. I live on an island so we are crossing on boats. So maybe from a child, say about 8 or 10 years old I began to go [on the sea] with my father. He used to usually bring me while sleeping, but he used to carry me.

But you know, you study and you work and afterwards I decided to fish. I worked in a hotel also as a receptionist…I fish with my husband. And I had to fish to school my daughters. I have three girls, they are adults now, they are all working.

IPS: You are still working in a hotel?

MAH: I have my own business, I run my own hotel business now for the last two years. You cannot dedicate all your life to fish. Because you don’t have a service or a pension and you have to be independent. So I run my own hotel business. The hotel is called Fort View…when we think and analyse that we are getting older and things are getting very tighter, financially, and fish is very less now. So you have to go everytime further and further to look for fish. So we decided we are going to build something and rent rooms and help us also to survive, to live.

IPS: How did you get involved in conservation?

MAH: In my father’s time you could freely catch turtles. And have them and you would carry them home, just like how you put up cows to kill, then in the week they would kill the turtles. And after a while it was beginning to disappear.

IPS: When was it that the turtles began to disappear?

MAH: It’s a lot of years not that you don’t see turtles like [we did] before. After Corallina, an organisation that protects the environment, formed groups and decided it is prohibited to catch turtles. It was 10 years ago I guess. But you still have fishermen that catch them. So you have to begin having meetings, working with them and showing them the importance of the environment of the animals and of the seas.

IPS: Where you part of these meetings and conservation efforts?

MAH: Yes. Because I work within the Marine Protective Area. We used to fish fish, and we used to have traps in my father’s time. But after I begin to start fishing we also used to catch turtle. But after you get conscious you decided no more turtle because it is prohibited.

Now you have groups that farm and protect turtles. I used to go on the beach and watch the beach when the turtles comes and lay the eggs. We would put a sign to say the eggs are there. We would watch them in turns until they hatched. And then we would see that they would go to the see safely.

IPS: What is your experience in terms of climate change and biodiversity? Have you seen things change since your father’s time?

MAH: A lot, a lot [has changed]. We didn’t have so much demand for fish. And so many restaurants who have demand for lobster. Those times, for the conch’s you could go on the wharf and jump and you would catch a conch. We have a lot of people who catch the conch from a baby, they aren’t conscious yet. Each one of the animals have a reason to be in the sea.

*The interview was edited for clarity.