From the 24th to the 29th of June, I attended the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC5) in Kuching, Malaysia. It was the first time for me to attend an international and professional conference. This was an opportunity to explore marine conservation across the world as young conservationists, as well as allow the world to know what Cambodia is doing in term of marine conservation, particularly the Liger Marine Research Team.
Initially, it was intimidating to be in the same area with hundreds of scientists, conservationists and Ph.D. students from across the world. However, once we got to talk to them a little, they seemed to be very open and wanted to talk to us more about what we do. It was amazing to meet people from different backgrounds working towards the same goal.
The conference consisted of many sessions and presentations about many topics ranging from marine protected areas to marine mammals to technology in conservation. I was mostly drawn to the presentation regarding marine protected areas (MPAs). The Sustainable Development Goal and Aichi target have the intention to have at least 10% of our ocean protected by 2020. This topic is becoming more important than ever in Cambodia. We now have two newly established MFMAs (a type of MPA), and more are in the plan. This is why it is important for us to know where the world is in term of MPAs and how we can contribute to achieving this global goal.
Besides learning from those presenters, we got the opportunity to inform more experienced conservationists about the work we are doing in Cambodia. We had a poster presentation on our monitoring of the artificial reef, which is part of the MPA in Koh Seh. It was delightful to get so many compliments about our project from very experienced people that we admire.
I found this opportunity really worthwhile because we got to make many connections with people that can help us with our projects. In addition, I felt that I’ve projected a little more voice for Cambodia ocean so that more people across the world know about it. I think it is very significant to have events like this where people from different cultures and backgrounds can share their work and walk closer together to achieve one common goal: to “make marine science matter.”