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Marine Life & Conservation

Liverpool divers bring rubbish to the surface in Underwater Litterpick



Car number plates, a pair of sunglasses and a watch were just some of the items which divers from Liverpool-based club TS Neptune brought to the surface during an Underwater Litterpick in the city centre.

Members of the city’s TS Neptune Sub Aqua Club, which is linked to the sea cadets, staged the clean up in Liverpool’s Dukes Dock to celebrate the BSAC’s Diamond Jubilee and as part of the Club’s annual Underwater Litterpick campaign. Club members spent more than five hours clearing debris from the dock basin.

Keith Bayley-Hamilton, TS Neptune SAC Secretary and Assistant Diving Officer, said the day proved a big success with more than 100 separate items being cleared from the bottom of the dock.

He said: “Although the club is affiliated to the Sea Cadets it is open to anyone to join. We had two of our cadets join a dozen adult divers for the day and they thoroughly enjoyed the event.

“It is important to get across the importance of clearing up the environment and looking after what is an important underwater habitat for wildlife. The problem is people seem to think because rubbish is out of sight underwater it doesn’t matter.

“However, there is a huge amount of wildlife living in the docks, including crabs, dog fish and even jellyfish and we wanted to improve the environment in which they live.” Liam Williams, 12, a pupil of Alsop High School, Queen’s Drive, Walton, said he thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the Underwater Litterpick.

He said: “I found loads of bottles and old tin cans. It was a massive event which has been good for the environment. The visibility was quite good until the bottom got stirred up and I saw loads of stone fish and crabs.

“I started diving seven months ago with the sea cadets. I am an OC, ordinary cadet, and have qualified as a BSAC Ocean Diver. I want to carry on diving in the future, it’s brilliant.

“It’s especially good when we do stuff like clearing all the rubbish from the bottom of the docks. I think people who stopped to watch what we brought up were amazed at just how much trash there is in the docks.”

Keith Bayley-Hamilton says he was surprised not just by the volume of rubbish collected but by the variety of items found.

He said: “I think we all expected to find lots of bottles and tins but there were lots of other things too. Plastic is so harmful to wildlife yet there is so much of it.

“But we also found the odd old shoe, and a ladies watch although it certainly wasn’t an expensive one, more a type of fancy dress or piece of costume jewellery. And a pair of old sunglasses which was something of a strange find.

“It makes you wonder just how long some of these things have been lying in the dock and how they got there in the first place.”

The BSAC Underwater Litterpick 2013 runs until 31 October and clubs/individuals can still register to take part. Click here for details.

Marine Life & Conservation

Blue Marine Foundation launches new partnership with Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance



Ocean charity makes initial grant of $90,000 to marine parks on six Dutch Caribbean islands. Award will fund projects including coral protection, and training youth marine rangers.

Ocean conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation has announced it is awarding $90,000 in funding to support marine conservation in the Dutch Caribbean. A range of projects run by protected area management organisations on six islands will each receive a grant of $15,000. The funding is the first step in a longer-term partnership to support the islands and help secure sustainable financing through the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) Trust fund.

To improve ocean governance, Blue Marine uses a combination of top-down intervention and bottom-up project delivery to help local communities at the front line of conservation. It will work together with the DCNA to help marine-park organisations protect the unique and threatened biodiversity of the Dutch Caribbean.

The new partnership is an important development in the successful management of marine conservation parks in the Dutch Caribbean. The UK-based charity has established a small-grants fund to provide rapid access to support for critical conservation projects run by marine parks.

The individual projects and their local partners are:

Unique ecosystems on the islands are vulnerable to threats such as feral livestock causing sedimentation on reefs, and invasive species, including lionfish and coral diseases. They are also at risk from overfishing, climate change, coastal development, erosion and the build-up of harmful algae caused by waste water.

The islands of the Dutch Caribbean are also home to important “blue carbon” habitats – ocean ecosystems such as seagrasses, mangroves and other marine plants that suck up and lock away carbon from the earth’s atmosphere. Seagrass is so efficient at this it can capture and store carbon dioxide up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.  The management and protection of these blue carbon habitats is vital in the fight against climate change.

Current marine conservation measures in the islands include a 25,390 square km mammal and shark sanctuary- Yarari sanctuary- across the Exclusive Economic Zone of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius. All six islands have inshore Marine Protected Areas ranging in size from 10 to 60 sq km.

Blue Marine’s Senior Project Manager Jude Brown commented: “Having recently visited two of the islands, I witnessed first-hand how special this region is. Diving the waters off Saba I saw huge Tarpon swimming amongst shoals of blue tang, and hawksbill turtles feeding on the seagrass beds. I also witnessed the challenges these islands are facing from coral disease to issues with coastal development. It is an exciting opportunity to work in the Dutch Caribbean, bringing expertise and funding from Blue Marine to join with the wealth of knowledge already on the islands, to work together to protect the important marine life arounds these islands.”

Tadzio Bervoets, Director of the DNCA commented: “The Dutch Caribbean consists of the Windward Islands of St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius and the Leeward Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The nature of the Dutch Caribbean contains the richest biodiversity in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The diverse ecosystems are a magnet for tourism and at the same time the most important source of income for residents of the Dutch Caribbean. Nature on the islands is unique and important but it is also fragile. The coming week we will be in The Netherlands to present a Climate Action Plan for the Dutch Caribbean to emphasize the urgent need for a climate smart future for our islands.”

Photo: Coral reefs in the Dutch Caribbean- Photo credit: Naturepics: Y.+T. Kühnast- all rights reserved

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Marine Life & Conservation

CCMI announces launch of two key projects, supported by RESEMBID



Building Resilient Reefs

Project title: Increasing Coral Reef Resilience with Assisted Evolution via Selective Restoration

Via this recently awarded RESEMBID grant, funded by the European Union, CCMI aims to rebuild coral reef ecosystem resilience through cutting-edge restoration techniques. The project will develop assisted evolution methods via selective restoration with stress (heat and disease) tolerant corals, to promote and sustain biodiversity of these threatened ecosystems.

This project will build on CCMI’s past research, incorporating our understanding of coral restoration disease resistance and outplanting methodology, while conducting state of the art experimentation to assess thermal tolerance, all of which will be used to increase the resilience of coral reefs through advanced restoration practices. Visiting collaborator Dr. John Bruno (Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), will be joining the team in the field in April 2022 and will also be present for the press conference. Outcomes from the work will include improved restoration strategies that will be shared regionally – seeking to ultimately increase coral resilience throughout the Caribbean. A short project overview will be given, including the opportunity for Q&As. The press conference will then be followed by a Reef Lecture by Dr John Bruno on the wider threats to global coral reef health.

Adapting to COVID-19

Project Title: Urgent technical assistance to support CCMI’s capacity to be a regional leader in protecting marine biodiversity and improving resilience.

This project is supported by a RESEMBID grant, funded by the European Union, which will enable CCMI to manage the impacts of COVID-19 by improving health and safety features of the facilities infrastructure and adapting emergency management processes. The grant will support enhanced operational resilience, thereby supporting CCMI’s continued work on improving and protecting marine biodiversity in the Cayman Islands and wider Overseas Territories.

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