Interview with Prashant Mohesh: Fighting Plastic Pollution & Climate Change in Mauritius
Learn about Youth Advisory Council member Prashant Mohesh and his inspiring advocacy journey fighting for environmental protection in Mauritius!
20 April 2022 | By Laura Johnson
Name: Prashant Mohesh
Prashant is a National Geographic Young Explorer and is in his first year on the World Ocean Day Youth Advisory Council. Prashant is also a painter, a surfer, and a PADI-certified diver. He has a background in Graphic Design from Curtin University, and he was also someone who went from fearing the ocean to protecting it on a daily basis. Living in Mauritius, he really loves the environment and he wants to protect it for future generations. With World Ocean Day, National Geographic and the support of the U.S. Embassy in Mauritius, he aims to educate, inspire and empower more young people with the right attitude skills and 21st-century knowledge so that they can be the critical agents of change and make their voices heard so that they feel safe: show them how their opinions, feelings, and perspectives matter.
Tell us a little bit about what you do, and why!
Hi everyone! My name is Prashant Mohesh, I’m 21 and I’m from Mauritius. I am a National Geographic Young Explorer, Documentary Filmmaker and the Founder of The Oceanic Project; a youth led organization using the power of storytelling to explore, educate and take action to protect our ocean. Diving is a large part of what I do and I do some specialized diving work with PADI Aware which is the Dive Against Debris. I was also someone who went from fearing the ocean to protecting it and do I have what it takes to be an explorer? Well yes. I might not have a background in Marine Science but I have had some amazing opportunities with National Geographic and I had enrolled in some of their exploring conservation courses. This led me to develop an explorer mindset with the right attitude, skills and knowledge. Now, I work effectively, collaborate and act responsibly so that I can generate, evaluate, and implement solutions to some of the world’s most urgent and pressing issues.
The reason why I love the ocean is because only 5% of the oceans have been explored and it is an alien world filled with magic and mystery. There is so much to discover in the deep and every time I dive, it feels like going home. I feel so connected to the ocean and this magical world needs to be protected.
What is an environmental issue that you feel strongly about?
Pollution is the biggest issues in Mauritius. The reason why people litter is because it’s an easy way to get rid of waste and this bad habit has been increasing for many years from the younger generations to adults. Most people are unaware of the lifespan that waste, like plastic bottles, has in our environment. We are a small island and each and every piece of trash on land makes its way into canals and ends up in the ocean when there is heavy rain. Just imagine how much trash is getting into the ocean.
How have you been taking action for this?
With my organization, we have done clean up campaigns both on land and underwater. We have removed a lot of debris including this gunny sack (seen in the photo).
It was stuck in the thickets of staghorn corals and I did removed it carefully because these corals are fragile. It’s crazy to imagine how far trash travels in the oceans and how much of it ends up stuck in corals.
Can you tell us a bit about some of your other projects, in addition to the work you’ve done to reduce plastic pollution?
Living on a tropical paradise island near the equator, we are badly affected by climate change. It is causing a direct impact on coral reefs on top of the marine debris that already pollutes the reefs. Around 70% of the reefs in Mauritius have been bleached or damaged. In order to take immediate action to protect what remains, we have designed an ocean education program named ‘Coral Squad’ for the youth aged 8-14 years old because they are the critical agents of change and it’s an opportunity for them to discover more about the important role of the ocean, coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses. This program also helped our participants to find their niche and the appellation of the squad means the bonding of the participants, showing that they are caring coral protectors. You can see our participants doing the active coral restoration in the photos below. We had the involvement of many local and international experts who joined our program in a virtual explorer classroom and in-person to lead a conversation about the importance of our ocean, specifically why human health depends on a healthy ocean and educated participants on how to restore corals.
Anything else you want to share?
With the support of the United States Embassy in Mauritius, National Geographic Education, Veranda Tamarin Hotel and New Reef Mauritius, this educational program was a great success! You can learn more about the program here.