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Protecting Ukraine’s future

MI student seeks to conserve her country’s coastline

By Stephanie Barrett

At first glance, the Ukrainian coastline seems beautifully majestic, pristine, and unspoiled. The truth is environmental issues along these shores have received little attention in the past. This has left a serious legacy of pollution in coastal and internal waterways, which has adversely affected the ocean environment. Attention to the environment is now a major concern for the Ukraine in terms of both enhancement and protection.

Natasha Gruzdyeva, an Integrated and Coastal Ocean Management (ICOM) student at the Marine Institute, has travelled a long way from her home in Odessa to get the education and training necessary to help bring much needed attention to these environmental issues in her home country.

“Unfortunately, we do not have an effective coastal management program in the Ukraine,” said Ms. Gruzdyeva. “We are at a stage now where our landscapes have become very vulnerable to impact from economic activity and we really need to improve and protect our coastlines.”

Ms. Gruzdyeva explained that while many people are aware of and concerned about the current environmental conditions, it has not been a priority. “In my opinion, coastal management plays a huge role in the future of the Ukraine so I want to draw much needed attention to it.”

Her passion for the ocean and environment is what led Ms. Gruzdyeva to make a career change. “My background is as a marine engineer so when I decided to leave my job with the cruise line, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to turn my attention towards protecting and preserving the unique natural resources and landscapes of my country.”

And the timing could not have been better. Her father, a dean and professor at a marine university in the Ukraine, was participating in a faculty exchange with MI and found out about the Advanced Diploma in Integrated and Coastal Ocean Management (ICOM) program. He discussed it with Ms. Gruzdyeva and without hesitation, she began the application process.

“We have marine institutions in the Ukraine but none of them offer integrated coastal management programs,” she said. “I was so excited to learn that I had been accepted.”