Every year we hold a conservation week on the rig. Here we focus all of our activity, for both guests and staff on conserving the marine environment. This year, we wanted to do more with our local community partners and we invited the Mabul Community Market (Mabul is our closest island neighbor) on to the rig to share their locally-made, ethically sourced and environmentally friendly products – many of which are recycled from rubbish – with our guests.
Lily Tubil is one of the founding members of the market. She has lived on Mabul since she was a child, and, for most of her life, made a living from selling jewellery containing sharks teeth to tourists. She would also sell jewellery and trinkets made from coral. As divers, we know how damaging these types of activities can be to the marine environment. However, for many ocean-based communities, these activities can sometimes provide a life-saving livelihood.
About a year ago Lily met an Instructor called Suna who was working with Scuba Junkies SEAS. Over the course of a day, Suna taught Lily how to knit small, brightly coloured Nudibranch’s (see photos). Lily developed this idea and, with some help from Scuba Junkie SEAS and other local community projects, expanded into making other knitted marine creatures. Lily now works with two teenagers from Mabul to make and sell these, and other items. This includes bracelets made from plastic bags, jewellery made from drinks-can tops, and lamps made from coconut shells.
During our conversation week, we were struck by the journey that Lily has made away from a livelihood that is incredibly harmful to the marine environment, and towards one that is sustainable and environmentally friendly. With knowledge and skills transfer from local NGOs, projects and dedicated individuals, Lily’s example shows how providing alternatives to environmentally-destructive but financially-necessary livelihoods can have a powerful impact on ocean-based communities. We were so impressed with Lily’s journey that we have invited her back for a couple of days each week to sell her products to our guests. So, when you’re next on the rig, there’s a good chance that you’ll get to meet Lily and her colleagues. And if you do, feel free to buy a small souvenir to take home. You can do so safe in the knowledge that you will be supporting a cause and a community that are dedicated to preserving and enhancing the marine environment.