Long time supporter of the SVGEF and newly appointed member of the Steering Committee Catherine Heeschen nee Prevost, has brought her design skills to the fore in designing a jewellery collection entitled Sea Life for the world renowned jewellery company Swarovski.
The collection highlights some of the endangered or threatened species in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that the Fund is endeavouring to protect, namely the marine turtles, the Union Island gecko and the parrot fish.
The Sea Life Collection, was officially unveiled on April 18 at a cocktail event at the Great Room of the Cotton House Hotel on Mustique. Over 100 persons attended the event, including the Hon Prime Minister Dr Gonsalves and his wife. Also in attendance were the Chairman of the Fund Bryan Adams and local Directors Louise Mitchell and Andre Iton.
Part proceeds from the new collection will go to the St Vincent and the Grenadines Environment Fund (SVGEF) to support its work.
Speaking about the collection Catherine said “…My way to raise awareness is to make something beautiful and it will tell a story. So I feel like if you were to wear those earrings and have someone say ‘I love those’, then you can say it’s the parrot fish and they’re endangered and it has a stronger message maybe than other ways.”
It is entirely fitting that Catherine was able to team the Fund up with a company founded on the principles of sustainability.
When Swarovski began in 1885, Nadja Swarovski’s great great grandfather started his company in the Tyrolean Alps of Austria, where he could power his crystal cutting machines with the water power coming out of the mountains, and over a century later that sustainability remains a centre piece of the company.
The company began with the principle of empowering women by providing them with an affordable alternative to diamonds. But now, it’s going further and embracing our duty to look after the planet and the threatened species around the world.
According to Nadja Swarovski: “It’s unbelievable how the loss of a certain species affects the biodiversity and people just don’t realise that. We just want to raise awareness of these issues, because it will change the consumption patterns of the consumer and that’s the ultimate goal we want to achieve.”
The Sea Life Collection highlights some of the critical work done by the SVGEF in recent years.
It’s unbelievable how the loss of a certain species affects the biodiversity and people just don’t realise that. We just want to raise awareness of these issues, because it will change the consumption patterns of the consumer and that’s the ultimate goal we want to achieve.Nadja Swarovski
Through collaboration with the government, the SVGEF was part of a national sea turtle program which led to the introduction of legislation to make it totally illegal to harvest marine turtles, with SVG being the first island in the Eastern Caribbean States to ban turtle harvesting.
As part of this program the Fund provided financial compensation to turtle fishers who surrendered their nets. The aim of supporting the fishers is to ensure that a partnership is developed wherein they become the custodians of the law for the protection of sea turtles.
Another signature piece of the collection is the Union Island gecko. The SVGEF is advocating also for the total protection of the Union island gecko, which the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has classified as critically endangered, which means it is in danger of being lost forever.
The final species that this collection focuses on is the parrot fish. The parrot fish doesn’t have any protection right now but the fund will be launching a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of the parrot fish.
As a result of overfishing in the past, it is extremely difficult to find a parrot fish that is not a juvenile anywhere outside of the Mustique Marine conservation area. This fish is extremely important to the ecosystem as it cleans the reefs by eating the algae that can grow over and cover the coral and cause the reefs to die. The reefs are being smothered by algae because there are not enough parrotfish and other herbivores out there grazing. Coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate.
The pieces in the Sea Life collection may also be purchased at the Atelier Swarovski website: atelierswarovski.com.