Sandals, Beaches move to save Ocho Rios’ reefs
Sunday, August 02, 2009
SANDALS and Beaches Resorts in the St Ann/St Mary region have escalated their drive to rid the coral reefs of debris while monitoring its rate of depletion, reporting to the Project AWARE Foundation in the USA on findings – all in an effort to solicit assistance to slow this process.
The Project AWARE Foundation, established in 1992, is the dive industry’s leading non-profit organisation committed to conserving the underwater environments through education, advocacy and action. Grant funding is made possible by direct contributions from divers and water enthusiasts, and operates on a quarterly funding cycle.
The foundation provides grants to a variety of non-profit organisations, institutions and individuals involved in activities directly related to the conservation of underwater environments, both marine and freshwater.
It works to accomplish its mission through support of programmes in selected focus areas, including:
. coral reef conservation;
. shark protection;
. sustainable fisheries;
. ecotourism (as related to underwater environments);
. aquatic education with a special interest in children; and
. direct activities to conserve underwater resources such as shoreline and underwater clean-ups, mooring buoy installations and maintenance.
Within these focus areas, projects may include:
. public education (formal and informal);
. grass roots conservation and enhancement projects;
. environmentally focused research that leads to conservation measures;
. public awareness initiatives; and
. environmental assessment and monitoring projects.
The Sandals and Beaches dive teams embark regularly on clean-up exercises with help from guests staying at the various hotels. The teams remove debris from various reefs along the coast during regular diving sessions.
But there are two bi-annual major clean-up operations where a large number of divers clean specific sites.
Leroy Francis, assistant watersports manager at Beaches Boscobel, noted that the clean-up is done “whenever we are diving and we notice debris we try and remove them. It’s something that we and our guests really enjoy doing”.
Bancroft Roberts, diving supervisor at Sandals Grand Ocho Rios, said he was very concerned at the large amount of rubbish being found on the reefs and the rate of depletion taking place.