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Board of Trustees


Founding trustee


Dr Ribbink is the founding trustee of Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) and is currently the CEO and the director of the African Marine Waste Network, currently SST’s primary project. Dr Ribbink developed and led the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme, taking it to the NEPAD Flagship Status before assuming leadership for SST. Prior to leading the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Project, Dr Ribbink managed the World Bank-supervised Lake Malawi/Niassa SADC/GEF Biodiversity Conservation Programme, where he was responsible for the development of a scientific, socio-economic and conservation strategy for Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania in managing the lake and its catchment. Prior to that Dr Ribbink was Deputy Director and then Acting Director of the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity



Mike Rodel is CEO of retail-property development company emRE, which operates in Southern and East Africa. He joined the board in 2013 and is its current chairman. He’s a civil engineer with years of experience in the property industry in South Africa and India, and has had a hand in the success of some of SA’s most well-known retail shopping centres, including Sandton City, Gateway Theatre of Shopping and Canal Walk. Mike has a particular interest in education and skills training through science centres. He’s also been appointed to the Exco of the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centres) Board of Trustees.


Mandlakazi Skefile is the former CEO of Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism (NMBT) and a passionate tourism industry advocate. During her eight-year tenure, she’s been instrumental in positioning the city as an alternate destination to other SA cities. She’s actively lobbied for and supported major city events such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Ironman South Africa and recently Ironman 70.3 World Championship 2018, IRB World Series Sevens rugby tournament, a growing concerts portfolio, and the naming of the city as the Bottlenose Dolphin Capital of the World. She’s also helped bring to life global partnerships, and is a major supporter of sustainable and responsible tourism. 


Nceba Mfini heads up African Marine Solutions Human Resources department. He’s passionate about sustainable transformation in South Africa, and has been instrumental in establishing strong skills development and talent management that has developed a high performance culture in the company. Nceba has 34 years of experience in his field, a long history that SST hopes to draw on in the creation of its education and skills-development programmes. He is also passionate about youth development in the community in order to develop self-sustainability and interdependency.


Dr Oosthuizen joined the Board in 2013. He’s a medical doctor based in Grahamstown and an active surfer with a strong interest in the ocean. He combined his interest in surfing and medicine by researching the sports physiology of active surfers.


Richard Laing joined the Board in 2013 and is a keen environmentalist. He has been a practising attorney since 1968 and was a senior partner with Wheeldon, Rushmere and Cole in Grahamstown, where he still consults. He was also a committee member of Eastern Cape branch of the Environmental Law Association.

Patricia Dollane

Patricia Dollane Chambers – Dlamini is the Founder & Managing Director of Innovation Led Development Projects (“InnoDev”), a consultancy firm providing leadership and development services to improve the socio-economic conditions of communities.
Her passion for entrepreneurship and SMMEs has been the defining feature of her 16-year legacy in the development arena which includes business incubation, ecosystems development, and innovation, ICT for development and skills & education support initiatives. Patricia is a thought leader in this arena having contributed to various national and provisional policy formulation and strategy development for SMME Development.

advisory panel

Abou Bamba

Executive Secretary of the UN Environment – Abidjan Convention


Abou Bamba is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention for Co-operation in the Protection and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the West, Central and Southern African Region. Abou Bamba holds an undergraduate degree in Port and Maritime Administration, a Master’s of Science in Economics and Management (maj: integrated oceans management) from the University Quebec at Rimouski, Canada, a degree in Sustainable Management of the Environment at the University of California at Berkeley, United States, and several certificates in political economy of the environment from the World Bank Economic Development Institute, Washington D.C. He sits on several international and regional committees on environmental related issues and has an interest for blue economy in the Africa region.

Cecilia Njenga

Regional Programme Coordinator, Southern Africa UNEP


Ms. Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga, Head of the UN Environment Programme Office in South Africa, is an Economist/Urban and Regional Planner with over twenty-five years of progressive work experience in international sustainable development. During the last 21 years, Cecilia has worked with United Nations, building on her leadership and managerial capacity in programme development, management and inter agency cooperation.

Cheri Scholtz

CEO at PET Recycling Company


Currently the CEO of PETCO, Cheri Scholtz has been involved with the organisation since its incorporation in 2004, and has seen it grow from a small industry-based initiative to demonstrate its commitment to sustainable development and extended producer responsibility, to a leading example in its field globally. Cheri represents the PET sector on the Board of Packaging South Africa together with colleagues from all the packaging streams including glass, paper, cans, cartons and other polymers and she has served on the Plastics|SA Sustainability Council as its first Chair. Cheri also represents the PET industry at the European Recycling and Recovery Organisation (EPRO) of which PETCO is an affiliate member, at the Global Alliance for Recycling and Sustainable Development (GARSD) and most recently on the Global Product Stewardship Council Advisory Group.

Douw Steyn

Sustainability Director, Plastics|SA


Douw Steyn joined the Plastics Federation of SA, as an Environmental Officer in June 1997, after working for the Population Development Program (PDP) in Kwazulu Natal for 12 years, where he was responsible for Population Education, Environment and Industry liaison. Douw is an active member of various waste management and environmental organisations such as the Global Plastics Alliance, UN Ad Hoc Expert Group on Marine and Micro Plastics, the Electronic Waste Association of SA, Chairman of the National Recycling Forum SA (till 2018) and founder member of various organisations and campaigns such as the Marine and Coastal Educators Forum, the International Coastal Clean-up SA, Clean-up and Recycle SA Week and Recycling Day SA.

Jared Bosire

Assistant Director at Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute


Jared has a PhD in Marine Science and brings into the team more than 20 years of experience in research and management in coastal and marine ecosystems; wildlife management; climate change; and policy development, implementation and organizational development. He has intensive experience in programme design and implementation across governmental and non-governmental organizations where he has held various senior management positions. Jared is a recipient of the Royal Academy of Overseas Sciences Award (Belgium) and International Fellow of the Year by the Society for Wetlands Scientists.

Judy Mann-Lang

Conservation Strategist at SAAMBR


Judy is passionate about the oceans and nature and has focused her career on helping people to care for the oceans. Judy has worked for the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR) since 1992. As Director of Education Judy and her team built the most diverse marine education team in Africa. Judy was the first woman aquarium Director in Africa as the Director of uShaka Sea World, through the amazing years of building and then moving from the old Durban aquarium to uShaka Sea World. After two years as the first female CEO of SAAMBR, Judy returned to her passion for conservation and education and now guides the conservation and communication work of the Association. Judy is responsible for all facets of communication and leads the Marine Social Science and Social Impact Research Initiatives. She is passionate about how a better understanding of human behavior can contribute towards conservation.

Linda Godfrey

Chair of the advisory panel and CSIR principal researcher


Prof Linda Godfrey is a Principal Scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Associate Professor at Northwest University in South Africa, and holds a PhD in Engineering from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. With over 20-years of sector experience, she currently heads up the Waste Research Development and Innovation (RDI) Roadmap Implementation Unit on behalf of the Department of Science and Innovation, a unit tasked with implementing South Africa’s 10-year Waste RDI Roadmap.

Nitasha Baijnath-Pillay

Specialist Advisor for Aquatic Science and Coastal Infrastructure Development at the National Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries


Ms Nitasha Baijnath-Pillay holds a Master Degree in Environmental Management from the University of Stellenbosch. Ms Baijnath-Pillay Nitasha has a suite of professional experience (spanning over 15 years) in networking, lobbying, advocacy, capacity building, environmental quality, compliance and enforcement, project management and resource quality and conservation management. She has knowledge and experience in the water, air, waste and climate sectors in South Africa (including cleaner production and resource quality management) and policy development. Ms Baijnath-Pillay is currently the Specialist Advisor for Aquatic Science and Coastal Infrastructure Development at the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries providing specialist input, advice and support in respect of aquaculture, coastal infrastructure development (including the coastal marine tourism sector) and small harbour development for the blue economy of the country.

Peter Ryan

Director of the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, University of Cape Town.


Peter Ryan graduated from the University of Cape Town, researching the impacts of ingested plastic on seabirds (MSc) and the evolutionary ecology of buntings in the Tristan archipelago (PhD). After a post-doc at the University of California he was appointed academic Coordinator of the Masters Programme in Conservation Biology at the Fitztitute in 1993. Although he mostly works on seabirds and their conservation, he has wide-ranging interests in avian biology. He has studied plastic pollution in marine systems since 1984, and has published over 40 papers on marine plastics. He is chair of the WIOMSA Expect Group on Marine Plastics and a member of the UN’s GESAMP working group on marine plastics.

Prof Reza Che Daniels

Associate Professor in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town


Reza Che Daniels is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Cape Town. He has also founded and run companies in the non-profit, manufacturing and consulting sectors and is a member of the Institute of Directors of Southern Africa. Reza continues to be involved in activities and initiatives that span a wide range of sectors, institutions and stakeholder groups. His interests are in development economics, environmental economics, applied econometrics and public policy. Reza has also served in advisory positions for several South African government projects, been a short-term consultant for the Asian Development Bank and World Bank, and has been an occasional editor for several local and international peer-reviewed journals. He is also a keen scuba diver, free diver and is slowly learning how to spear-fish. He hopes to one day dive in all of the five oceans of planet Earth. https://sites.google.com/site/rezachedaniels/

Wilfred Chivell

Founder of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Wilfred Chivell is a passionate conservationist and founded the Dyer Island Conservation Trust in 2006 when he started the African penguin nest project. Wilfred is the owner of award winning eco-tourism businesses Marine Dynamics shark cage diving and Dyer Island Cruises whale watching, in Gansbaai, Western Cape, South Africa. These companies employ marine biologists and are the operational and funding platform for the research, conservation and educational projects such as – African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary; great white shark research; marine pollution efforts-fishing line bins, beach clean ups and Project Storm addressing ocean bound waste; marine animal strandings; and environmental education.

Julius Francis

Currently work for the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA)

Julius Francis currently work for the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), which is a regional professional, non-governmental, membership organization, based and registered in Zanzibar, Tanzania. He has been involved in different aspects of conservation, research and management of coastal and marine environments in the western Indian Ocean (WIO) region for a number of years working with many collaborators and partners including decision makers, local communities, managers, scientists and students. Also, been involved in coastal and marine resource management programs, community based natural resources management, capacity building for MPA management, ICM, and Marine Spatial Planning. His particular interest is in linking the knowledge that emerges from research to the management and governance issues that affect marine and coastal ecosystems in the region. Recently, he has been playing a key role in setting up a regional platform for interactions between scientists and decision-makers under the auspices of the Nairobi Convention. He coordinated the production of the first comprehensive Regional State of the Coast Report for the WIO region. He is currently coordinating regional monitoring programme for marine litter and ocean acidification as well as the Group of Experts on marine litter and microplastics.




Dr Earle is one of the strongest advocates for the oceans in the world: besides the fact that she’s been a marine biologist since the 1960s, she is also the founder of Mission Blue, which aims to establish marine protected areas – called Hope Spots – around the world. In 2014, she came to South Africa to launch our own six Hope Spots. Dr Earle travels around the world raising awareness of the importance of the marine world and its ecosystems. She has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998, was also named Time Magazine’s first Hero for the Planet in 1998, has been awarded 28 honourary doctoral degrees and has more than 100 awards among many other accolades. www.mission-blue.org


Professor Swartz was instrumental in developing Nelson Mandela University’s leadership role in marine sciences, education and conservation. He was NMU Vice-Chancellor until 2017. He is an avid hiker and outdoorsman, and has a deep interest in conservation, including marine conservation.

Craig Foster

Craig and his brother Damon Foster are two of SA’s top documentary filmmakers. They have a strong focus on the natural world, with films such as The Great Dance: A Hunter’s Story and Cosmic Africa. Currently, Craig is focused on a love project: he’s returned to the kelp forests of his youth in the False Bay area. Here he has spent every day of the last five years diving, and is in the process of making a documentary about the area. He has recently released Sea Change together with Ross Frylinck. www.seachangeproject.com


Masaki Miyaji is the mayor of Tobetsu-cho and a senior corporate advisor for Mitsubishi and the Japan International cooperation Agency (JICA). Until recently, he also served as an advisor to four presidents in Africa. He began his patronage of SST in Japan in 2012.

Peter Van Kets


Peter is an extreme adventurer who has undertaken many challenging journeys: he’s rowed across the Atlantic, twice; travelled to the South Pole with motivational speaker Braam Malherbe; and most recently he pedaled from the Kunene River Mouth on the Angolan border across the Namibian desert to Walvis Bay. He is a motivational speaker, and also a passionate conservationist. www.petervankets.co.za