Cayman outlines eco-initiatives

Sustainable initiatives to preserve Cayman’s coral reefs and waters were outlined to the international media recently through press releases sent out from the recent DEMA dive show.

The DEMA show took place earlier this month in Orlando, Florida.

Spearheading the effort with sustainable initiatives, Steve Broadbelt, owner of Ocean Frontiers in Grand Cayman’s East End, has proposed a five-year plan to turn Cayman’s scuba diving industry carbon neutral.

‘In doing so, the Cayman Islands will be the first country in the region, and most likely the entire industry, to achieve this. Cayman’s dive operators plan to use Carbon Offsets, switch its dive boats to run on biofuels, and establish a local Carbon Offset Fund to support improved recycling programs, mangrove replanting and more,’ the release said.

Cayman Diving Lodge, slated to open in December 2008, will be the first and only luxury ecotourism resort in Grand Cayman. The Lodge will be a Green Certified Resort, built to meet green building standards and operated in a responsible fashion to protect and preserve the natural environment of the Cayman Islands. Scuba diving in an unspoiled natural setting will provide guests a dive vacation just as it was meant to be: a complete experience of interaction, adventure and discovery.

Divetech in West Bay recently announced a new programme for its diving guests to do their part to preserve and conserve the environment. Divetech is offering reusable sport bottles, available for purchase by guests for just $6. With the purchase of a sport bottle, guests then get free bottled water for the entire length of their stay, along with a souvenir item to take home.

‘Previously, we purchased about eight to 12 flats of 16 oz. bottled water a week,’ said Nancy Easterbrook of Divetech. ‘This amounts to over 10,000 plastic water bottles going to the landfill each year. Even if only half of our customers convert, that still significantly reduces the volume of plastic sent to the land fill.’

During DEMA, Divetech also sponsored a programme geared toward youth to get them interested in scuba diving and saving the world’s oceans. Approximately 150 junior and senior high school students enrolled in marine science at Freedom High School in Orlando will attend DEMA for a week of hands-on marine education. The group was to join internationally-renowned Marine Artist, Ron Steven (‘Rogest’) to create a painting to be auctioned off at the DEMA Awards Party. Proceeds from this unique auction will go towards the release of Green Sea Turtles through Divetech’s Cayman Turtle Adoption and Release Programme. The programme, which is held at the popular Cayman Turtle Farm inside Boatswain’s Beach, is aimed at the gradual protection of turtles over the long-term. In addition to painting, the students also engaged in educational sessions on the importance of protecting the environment and oceans.

In Little Cayman, Manager Peter Hillenbrand, runs Southern Cross Club, a full service fish and dive resort also doing its part to protect the environment. Exciting environmental programmes include the implementation of renewable sources of energy; in addition to the resort being designated as a Reef Environmental Education Foundation field station to actively engage divers and marine enthusiasts in marine conservation.

The release also notes the Little Cayman Research Center, a 6600 square foot complex dedicated to improving and sustaining biodiversity through research, education, and outreach programmes.

At DEMA the Cayman Islands also announced upcoming dive focused events such as: the Pirates Week Underwater Treasure Hunt on 11 November at Cobalt Coast Resort; Digital Jam by Divetech at Cobalt Coast from 12 to 19 January; The International Scuba Hall of Fame on 17 January at the Marriott Beach Resort followed by the International Underwater Film Festival on 18 January at the Marriott Beach Resort.

DEMA show attendees were also invited to take advantage of a variety of diving and accommodation packages for Divetech at Cobalt Coast, Paradise Villas and Little Cayman Beach Resort, Brac Reef Beach Resort and Compass Point Dive Resort and Ocean Frontiers.

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