Sign up to Only One to discover more ocean stories and impactful actions for people and planet
Join Only One

Veta Wade

Veta Wade has worn many hats: serial entrepreneur, consultant, ocean advocate, and sustainability ambassador.

An award-winning Caribbean-based ocean advocate, Veta was recognized by the Ocean Awards 2020 as a leader on marine conservation issues within the Caribbean through her nonprofit organization Fish ’N Fins.

Fish ’N Fins is focused on teaching Caribbean children to swim, snorkel, and protect our oceans. Veta created Fish ’N Fins because of her own time growing up in Montserrat, where her family had a deep fear of the water, resulting in her having a very disconnected relationship with the ocean.

Veta’s nonprofit Fish ’N Fins focuses on teaching Caribbean children to swim, snorkel, and protect our ocean · Ryan Schuessler

After some time spent away from Montserrat, Veta returned and reconnected with island life. She spent a significant amount of her free time learning from fishers and grew more curious about what lay under the waves. She realized that the sea she was taught to fear as a child was misunderstood—and suffering from poor marine management practices. And she knew that unless her community could connect with the ocean, they wouldn’t be able to realize the full potential of rebuilding and teaching the next generation to preserve it.

As Veta puts it, “Black people need to swim and be safe in and around water. Black children need to see Black people being comfortable, adventuring, happy, and prosperous in this space. After all, the sea is in our backyard, and who better to care for your backyard than you!”

Gearing up for a Fish ’N Fins lesson. Veta wants to reconnect Afro-Caribbean people with the ocean because of her own time growing up in Montserrat, where her family had a deep fear of the water · Veta Wade

A primary challenge to getting more folks to swim was the lack of access to swimming pools, which are often out of reach for local Caribbeans. Enter Fish ’N Fins: a program that began out of a swimming pool. Veta had no equipment nor money for this initiative but, through persistent advocacy and outreach, she garnered the support of divers, her fisher friends, and her colleagues.

Swimming pools are often out of reach for local Caribbeans, creating a barrier to getting more folks to swim. Fish ’N Fins overcomes this challenge by teaching children how to swim in the ocean · Ryan Schuessler
The Fish ’N Fins programs include learning centered on playing a key part in the long-term protection of the ocean · Veta Wade
Today, Fish ’N Fins provides over 2,000 youth across the Caribbean with opportunities to learn about local marine life, sea safety, career progression, ocean justice, and more · Ryan Schuessler

Today, Fish ’N Fins provides over 2,000 youth across the Caribbean with opportunities to learn about local marine life, sea safety, career progression, ocean justice, and more. Veta shares the Fish ‘N Fins curriculum across the Caribbean islands, creating long-term opportunities to shift perceptions and build conservation knowledge.

Veta finds that this type of data collection and information sharing “means Black communities can contribute to global knowledge about the topics and places they care about and know best.”

Veta’s help in giving Black communities the ability to wield their own narrative around conservation is planting powerful seeds for the future.

Fish ’N Fins students playing in the sea. Veta believes in deepening the opportunities for the next generation of Afro-Caribbeans to be leaders in the ocean economy · Ryan Schuessler
In 2020, to deepen the opportunities Afro-Caribbean people have to be leaders in the ocean economy, Veta founded the AQUA Caribbean Blue Economy Conference.

Veta knew a significant way to create future Black ocean stewards is through direct stakeholder engagement. When building the ocean economy, those who do not have power in the conversation will continue to be those who are the most exploited. Therefore, she believes it is of the utmost importance for Afro-Caribbean entrepreneurs, researchers, and stewards of the sea to have a voice. The AQUA conference engages businesses, nonprofits, green nongovernmental groups, and others on how to build a just, equitable future. These are the systemic changes that will be necessary to create transparency and accountability within ocean management strategies.

Veta says, “Black people need to swim and be safe in and around water. Black children need to see Black people being comfortable, adventuring, happy, and prosperous in this space.” · Ryan Schuessler
Veta views the ocean as a core part of the story of Black survival. She offers, “The ocean is directly linked to our health and wellness and livelihoods. It is our protection in increasingly violent storms and hurricanes. It’s time the world sees not just our vulnerability, but truly values our contributions to ocean conservation.”

Veta’s work addresses both the educational and economic barriers that Black people have had to survive through to feel heard and respected in this space. She was tired of waiting for others to provide a seat at the table—so she built her own instead.

Veta has carved out her own pathway in marine conservation while encouraging the Afro-Caribbean community to be active in the conversation · Veta Wade
Learn more about Veta

Founder, Fish ’N Fins Creator, The Blue Zone Live Web Series Website · Facebook · Instagram

Share this story
Contributors
Kristy Drutman
Founder of Brown Girl Green

Meet Black ocean leaders

Weldon Wade

Keeping Bermudian divers diving
3 min read

Textured Waves

Advocating for diversity and inclusion in the surfing community
3 min read

Kramer Wimberley

Restoring our oceans, preserving Black heritage
2 min read

Tracey Baptiste

Bringing Caribbean folklore to young readers
3 min read

Explore the full series

Series

Black Voices of the Ocean

Amplifying Black leaders in marine conservation