Thursday, September 20, 2007

Protect Our Coral Reefs

Joeten Kiyu LibraryMarianas Resource Conservation & Development Council recently donated two large Protect Our Coral Reef banners to the library. There are also banners hanging at the USDA office and the RC&D office. We're preparing one for the National Park Service to hang at American Memorial Park.

If you know of a high visibility place to hang one, let me know and I'll see if we can get one to you. The posters read, "What we do on the land can affect our marine environment."

People may not realize this, but our activities on the land affect our coral reefs as much if not more than our activities that take place in the water. Divers, swimmers, crown of thorn starfish, typhoons, bleaching events, and anchors can do a number on coral reefs, but they can and do bounce back after disturbances.

That is not the case if the water is loaded with sediment, pesticides, fertilizers, bacteria, sewage, and other pollutants. When these stressors are present, the reef may not come back after a disturbance.

******

There was another Marianas Dive meeting last night. This time we met up at Porky's. The owner, Bruce Bateman, has agreed to donate 10% of all food & drink sales on nights that we have meetings there.

The meeting last night was led by Mike Tripp.

Mike Tripp SaipanMike is the guy with the goofy smile on the left. He's the leader of Marianas Dive. He's Canadian, so we call him the Prime Minister. He is a local diver/retired pharmacist and is the producer of The Underwater World of Saipan.

Before I get into the meeting, this is from the Marianas Dive website:

The Marianas Dive group is dedicated to creating a resource, a world class destination and a community for the purpose of increasing awareness, promoting education, and ensuring the protection of the underwater world of the Marianas Islands (Saipan, Tinian, Rota) and the unique diving experience it offers.

Mission Statement: Awareness, Education & Protection

The Marianas Dive group is dedicated to creating a resource, a world class destination and a community for the purpose of increasing awareness, promoting education, and ensuring the protection of the underwater world of the Marianas Islands (Saipan, Tinian, Rota) and the unique diving experience it offers.

A Resource
We shall begin by networking and using the Internet and all promotional tools available to create a Marianas Dive information portal.Ê This information will be amassed and provided to the local and international dive, and scientific communities and be available in the languages of all our target tourist countries.

A World Class Destination
We shall ensure that the Mariana Islands meet or beat the expectations of a being a safe, environmentally friendly, world class dive destination.Ê This includes improving diver safety and reducing environmental impact by assisting with the implementation and maintenance of a proper mooring system, including marker buoys and guide ropes at all popular dive sites. It is also our goal to ensure all divers are environmentally aware of their impact on the reef and marine environment.

A Community
We are, above all else, a community that shares a love of all things underwater. We shall promote fellowship and camaraderie among all divers who enjoy the waters of the Marianas whether full time, during occasional trips or as weekend warriors. We shall meet regularly, organize group dives and social events that allow members to interact, swap stories, discuss ideas and to get to know one another personally. We welcome all regardless of nationality, culture, level or frequency of dive experience.
Seems like a pretty good idea to me, doesn't it?

The meeting itself was pretty short. Mike updated everyone on the progress of the website, pending legislation, finances ,formation of a 501(c)3 and the fun dive, beach cleanup, dive cleanup sponsored by the group.

After the meeting, officials from the Division of Fish & Wildlife came in to go over the DFW rules & regulations. I learned several things last night. I didn't know that you needed a permit to collect shells or to have an aquarium. Any aquarium.

Who knew?

Although we had a few issues with our screen and microphone cord, the presentation went well. The presentation was followed by a question & answer session.

There were a few issues that I thought were confusing. We were told that it is illegal to walk on exposed reef. Does that mean that it is OK to walk on the reef during high tide, but not low tide? We were also told that people are not allowed to walk on Forbidden Island or Bird Island. I didn't see that written anywhere in the regulations, but I'm an idiot, so that could explain why I didn't see them.

Marianas Dive has a discussion board. It is a great place to keep people talking about these ideas. I hope that the DFW officials sign up. Maybe we could start a thread just on regulations?

Overall I thought the meeting and the DFW presentation were very successful. It was well attended. There were local divers, dive shop operators, boat operators, tour operators, and fishermen. Representatives Palacios, Tebuteb, and Waki were also there.

Ray TebutebAbsalon WakiThe next meeting of Marianas Dive will be the first Wednesday in October. I don't remember where it will take place. Check there website for info.

5 comments:

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Pragmatic Plato said...

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PP

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