Dive Fest Barbados is now celebrating its second year with a mandate to protect the coral reefs and sea turtles in Barbados.
The charge came from Barbados Dive Operator Association representative, Andre Miller who told members of the audience at UMI Restaurant, Sugar Bay resort, Hastings that 99 per cent of Barbados’ coral reef is overfished.
“We [want] the world to know that Barbados is open for diving and we [want] to show the issues that we have to deal with. We ‘canaries’ are telling Barbadians that they need to do something right now [as] over 99 per cent of our reefs are overfished. Most of our fish are gone,” Miller said, adding that Barbados needs to protect its coral reef as the country is one of the true coral islands in the Southern Caribbean.
“All of us need healthy beaches [and] all of our healthy beaches need a healthy fish population. We can’t have one without the other and healthy fish need a healthy coral reef. Barbados is the only true coral island in the Southern Caribbean and we need to stand up and shout this. We need to protect it,” he said.
Miller also noted that the Dive Festival which shall be held from July 4- 8 has gained international recognition with the members of the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) attending this year.
“PADI normally takes a decade before coming to national events. We got PADI in Barbados in year two. Take a bow. Certainly, we are doing something right,” he said.
Miller also explained the financial rewards that can be derived from maritime sources like sea turtles which are valued at $1.7 M USD per turtle.
“The value of a healthy live turtle is $1.7 M USD. When we lose a turtle, that is $1.7 M USD, $3.4 M BDS out of the sector. [During Dive Fest] we will also be working with the sea turtle project and we are going to turn some of our funds from our crazy boat race to the sea turtle project,” Miller said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Rudy Grant said that Dive Fest provides important educational opportunities for children.
“Andre spoke to the fact that they are facilitating 200 kids to [ensure] that we get tourists and their kids involved with the project as well. So, there is that educational aspect and also, more importantly, [the sharing of information] as it relates to actually taking care of a marine environment,” Grant said.
Dive Fest Barbados kicks off on July 4th with the Conservation and Screening Open at Copacabana in Bay Street, St Michael at 6 p.ºm. Further information can be found on their website at www.divefestbarbados.com (LG)