Youth Making Waves: Caitlin Philipps

My name is Caitlin and I am a 17-year-old from Australia. I have grown up around the waters of Melbourne and come from a family of avid sailors. When my sister and I weren’t at school, our family spent weekends and holidays swimming, sailing and snorkeling. My early life around the sea shaped who I am today and has grown my thirst to make a difference.

I have always been eager to make a greater impact on the world so after an incredible work experience at Melbourne SEALife Aquarium, I joined their alumni Ocean Youth group in alliance with the SEALife Trust Australia/ New Zealand. We spent our weekends doing clean-ups, counting gastropods on beaches, snorkeling amongst sea dragons and learning the ins and outs of threats against our oceans. Through this group, I was able to start my campaign ‘Pump It, Don’t Dump It’, which focuses on getting pump out stations at the Whitsundays, a group of islands within the Great Barrier Reef. At the moment, boats are able to dump their sewage directly into the waters surrounding the Whitsundays. There are rules and regulations regarding the disposal of sewage, but of course, it is difficult to govern with thousands and thousands of boats visiting the area each year. The simple solution is to have easy to use pump out stations. It would give boats an easy disposal point and many are keen to use it. If you would like to find out more, visit the Facebook page, ‘Pump It, Don’t Dump It’.

A little closer to my home in the waters of Melbourne, I have seen the conditions of the sea get worse. The fish population is becoming limited due to overfishing, the seafloor habitat is being lost due to dredging and the everlasting problem of plastics such as fishing line, plastic bags and plastic bottles, as well as micro-plastics, are becoming more and more prominent. But, one thing I have learnt along the way is that ‘youth have the power to change the world’. One person alone cannot do it all, but if we work together anything is possible. So when I heard about the opportunity to be a part of the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council, I jumped at it. I couldn’t let the opportunity to educate and speak to more of the world’s population, collaborate with like-minded people and create a lasting positive impact on the ocean together pass by. With ‘together’ being the main word in that sentence, let’s unite and face the challenges of ocean conservation together.

Caitlin Philipps 19-Oct-2016