Board of Trustees
DR tony RIBBINK, 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, CHAIRMAN
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 FREDERICK OOSTHUIZEN
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.
DR SYLVIA EARLE
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
PROF DERRICK SWARTZ
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 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
MEET THE TEAM
Through her work with the Museum of Aids in Africa, Namhla saw that one person, in their own way, can transform grief, hopelessness, poverty and misinformation into resilience, innovation and creativity for the community. She has worked in the fields of education, politics and communications for many sectors: government, NGOs and private business.
“Through working with communities and business, I want to shine the light about the welfare of animals, marine and land, and transform ignorance about littering into not just a new environmental activism, but a source of sustainable economic empowerment.”
HEAD OF RESEARCH
Wade has a B.SC in Zoology and Ecology from the University of Cape Town, as well as an honours in Botany and a masters in Conservation Biology. He is our principal researcher for the African Marine Waste Network’s GIS project, which aims to model and map the distribution of marine plastic waste.
“My personal goal is to conduct scientifically sound research of anthropogenic litter, not only to better understand its causes and effects, but to help develop better monitoring and management strategies to alleviate this issue across Africa. My hope is that it will also contribute to the global understanding of this dire issue.”
Nozi is a young scientist and educator with a great passion for the environment. She holds a Masters in Zoology from the University of Stellenbosch. Her academic background has mainly focused on showing the importance of integrating molecular data into conservation (implementation of Marine Protected Areas) and management of marine biodiversity. With a strong passion to protect our oceans, she works with schools, governments and local communities to build capacity and raise awareness about the amount of waste produced on land that enters into our oceans.
“I’d love to use education as a platform to encourage people toward sustainable living practices and to re-ignite their passion for the environment and our oceans.”
HEAD OF THE AFRICAN WASTE ACADEMY
Stephanie Martin is a passionate and creative environmentalist and educator with a Masters in Zoology and a Post-graduate Certificate in Education. With a lifelong passion for the ocean and its conservation, Steph is very excited to be part of the Sustainable Seas Trust team and make a contribution towards creating sustainable oceans for the future.
“I want to find creative and innovative ways of conveying the important messages of ocean conservation through the platforms of education, design and research so these can be understood by the youth, government and industry of Africa.”
HEAD OF AFRICAN YOUTH WASTE NETWORK
Through volunteering programmes in disadvantaged communities, Alexie discovered her passion for working with youth with a focus on environmental problems, so she jumped at the opportunity to work with Sustainable Seas Trust. It allows her to serve the community while raising awareness about environmental and marine issues. She has a BA in English and French literature, as well as an Honours in French.
“The youth of Africa have a valuable and important contribution to make to their communities, especially in driving sustainable futures. I’m very passionate about finding ways to connect the youth across the continent.”
HEAD OF MICROPLASTICS
Amarein obtained her Masters degree in Zoology from the Nelson Mandela University cum laude. Although her studies focused on terrestrial ecology, her passion for conservation led her to work with Sustainable Seas Trust to preserve the ocean and all it holds for Africa’s future generations.
“I want to increase the public’s conscientiousness regarding plastic-waste disposal and influence the plastics industry to reduce the production of single-use plastics through high-impact research projects.”
dALE rOY bRAY
Dale has been drawing for his whole life. He graduated from Stellenbosch University with a double honours in Fine Art and Illustration. He also has a long history with the ocean: his father was a commercial diver who set him in the sea as soon as he could think about swimming. This experience has made the ocean his second home, and his passion is to work to restore and preserve its beauty for future generations so they can fully enjoy its splendour.
“I want to use art to inspire and impact people both internally, so it changes their actions to value the sea, and externally, so they see more beauty in the world around them.”