[private] The idea behind each project is to provide jobs for the residents of Utila and additional sources of income for the island community. The first project had to do with the beach. This is something Utila needs to diversify, to keep our tourists returning. The idea is to give the tourists more choices to come to Utila for their vacations or special occasions.
Our economy on Utila, and this includes the Keys, depends on the tourists we attract, and scuba diving is the main attraction.
Our reefs are disappearing at an alarming rate each year with no relief in sight. We need to explore solutions to bring back our reefs’ ecosystem, to regenerate them faster and healthier before they become extinct.
It would be great if we could turn the entire island and surrounding waters into a National preserve. This would require the cooperation of Tegucigalpa and all respective agencies involved with the conservation management of the Bay Islands. The concept is very basic but at the same time very complex, because it would require the cooperation and networking of many agencies to bring such a project together to achieve the desired outcome of a National preserve.
Another idea is to take a section of water about 3-5 square miles, and set it aside as a protected area or Marine Park. Laws would need to be established to protect the area, and this would require special law enforcement personnel to apply the laws for the Marine Park. In one area there might be the Coral Gardens Project growing new coral to be replanted to all areas of the reef. In time a certain percentage of the coral could be set aside to be sold to help generate money for the park. All forms of aquaculture could be adapted to the park. Conch, lobster, fish, coral, oysters, and all forms of mussels can be grown in the park to be released later to benefit our community of Utila.
We are only talking about a small section of ocean being set aside for the Marine Park. I am suggesting that we take a section already fished out where the fishermen are not able to make a living from that section. After 3 years, the quality and quantity of marine life available will satisfy all of our fishermen. The Marine Park will be protected at all times, and the area surrounding it would become a fisherman’s paradise.
Project AWARE Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving underwater environments through education, advocacy and action. In partnership with divers and water enthusiasts like you, they work to protect aquatic environments in 110 countries and territories of the world. Go to their website at www.projectaware.org. How about Utila becoming a partner of Project AWARE?
Project AWARE and dedicated dive volunteers are committed to conservation initiatives including:
1. Underwater Cleanups and Marine Debris Prevention
2. Coral Reef Conservation, Monitoring and Data Collection
3. Shark Education, Reporting and Conservation Improved Management Policies and Marine Protection Efforts
4. Environmental Training for Scuba Divers and Education Programs for Kids
Our community and dive centers should work together as a TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More), educating everyone and in particular our young children, bringing these subjects to ALL the classrooms in schools on Utila and the Keys. It can be a part of their science project. Thousands of AWARE Kids across the globe are making a difference in their own schools and communities. How about making a difference in Utila? [/private]