Sheena Talma has been commended for her work as part of the Aldabra Clean Up Team and one of the 2 Seychellois marine scientists selected for the Africa-Oxford Visiting Fellowship this Summer. Sheena works at the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change and we got her perspective on gender and ocean:
What is your contribution towards ocean conservation and/or the blue economy?
First and foremost, I am a conservationist. I have a particular and a burning passion for fish and the environments that they inhabit. Why fish you ask? As a biological species, they are so diverse with a large array of modified characteristics to occupy specific niches in the ocean. Unfortunately, fish have often been overlooked as just a resource for food. We cannot afford to continue pillaging our oceans in an uninformed and unsystematic manner. We need to be more aware of the damaging effects of our unsustainable consumption of fish and make informed decisions about what types of fish we consume.
What is your proudest achievement for the ocean?
That’s a hard question, I would say, being part of the MEECC team. Working with the biodiversity and conservation team has afforded me the opportunity to work with projects such as Nekton, CITES-listed species, SWIOfish, attend an array of meetings around the world and having an input in marine related issues. My other proud moment is being part of the amazing team that took the challenge of clearing marine debris on Aldabra. Marine Debris is but one of the many challenges facing the oceans, it creates a nice platform to start other conversations such as over fishing, ghost fishing and climate change.
Do you believe that there is gender equality when it comes to leadership, community action, and investors and businesses in the blue economy?
I think that women play a prominent role in the blue economy especially within the community, however, I would like to see more women in the leadership roles, as a young female scientist there are some truly amazing and strong women scientists making leaps and bounds for Seychelles such as; Dr. Frauke, Dr. Bodin, Dr. Henriette, Wilna Accouche, Helena Sims and the numerous others working in the marine and terrestrial fields. However, in the fishery realm, I feel like our more than capable women aren’t being placed in the positions where they can truly shine their light. I would like to see more woman taking the lead in our fisheries management… wouldn’t that be a sight!
Do you have advice for the younger generation or other women who are thinking about taking up a role in this space?
Persistence is key and the challenges never end but they are all character building experiences.