Plastic bags aid environment

For the third consecutive year, Foster’s Food Fair IGA has donated funds from its stores’ plastic bag sales to the Central Caribbean Marine Institute. 

This year, proceeds from the bag sales will go towards the Young Environmental Leadership Course, the Juvenile Nassau Grouper project and the Invasive Lionfish project.  

The company’s managing director Woody Foster said his stores were happy to do their part and donate the bag sales to the projects. “Making a difference in the lives of young people and helping to protect the environment are very important to us here at Foster’s Food Fair IGA,” he said. 


Young environmental leaders  

CCMI’s Young Environmental Leadership Course introduce 10 Caymanian students to the role of the environment in our everyday lives, especially as a business commodity. Students spend two weeks at the Little Cayman Research Centre working alongside scientists and researchers, immersing them in all things conservation and marine science. All participants are trained by professionals throughout the course to complete their dive certification up to instructor level.  

In addition to dive training, the course introduces the students to marine conservation theory, the marine environment and tourism and current threats to the environment. Each theory class is supported with vocational experiences, to ensure the relevance of the theory had a practical application to which the students could relate.  

Business owners in Little Cayman support the students, helping them to understand how the environment and the community are closely linked. Work experience placements are provided for students on completion of the course to ensure that their new skills are maximised in the future.  


Grouper research  

In early 2012, CCMI researchers found juvenile Nassau groupers in shallow lagoons around Little Cayman. Nassau groupers are protected in Little Cayman because the spawning aggregations that were populated by thousands of fish are gone, with the exception of one site on the west side of Little Cayman.  

They are listed as endangered on the IUCN Redlist.*

The discovery of the juvenile grouper has led to a joint project with the Cayman Islands Department of the Environment to describe and map the habitat preference of juvenile Nassau groupers around Little Cayman. The recovery of Nassau grouper populations could be improved by protection of nearshore habitats used by newly settled and juvenile grouper. 


Lionfish project  

Since 2011, CCMI and the University of Florida have collaborated to study several aspects of the invasion of the Indo-Pacific red lionfish. Weekly lionfish culls have proved successful in minimising numbers on dive sites, so much so that CCMI has introduced an annual lionfish culling tournament open to the public in Grand Cayman.  

With the support of Foster’s Food Fair IGA and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, native fish surveys and diet analysis will continue through 2013, which will give CCMI scientists a robust dataset with which to draw new conclusions about the impacts of the invasive lionfish in Little Cayman and the best management solutions to minimise these impacts.  

This year, proceeds from the bag sales will go towards the Young Environmental Leadership Course, the Juvenile Nassau Grouper project and the Invasive Lionfish project. 


Editor’s note: This story has been changed from the original for clarity.