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Bonaire Launches Program For International Year Of The Reef 2008
By Matt J. Weiss, February 23, 2008 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
Source: traveldailynews.com
overnment officials from Bonaire joined coral reef experts and managers from the United States, Mexico and France to officially inaugurate the International Year of the Reef 2008 during a news conference as part of the International Coral Reef Initiative Meeting in Washington D.C. on January 24, 2008.
Joining the conference live from Bonaire via telephone were Lieutenant Governor Herbert Domacasse, Director of Tourism Corporation Bonaire Ronella Tjin Asjoe-Croes, Director of STINAPA Elsmarie Beukenboom, and key stakeholders of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who were recently in Bonaire conducting research.

In 1997, Bonaire became IYOR’s first partner in the Caribbean to establish a comprehensive plan dedicated to executing a program of public education about coral reefs, assessing the conditions of coral reefs and collaborating with local communities and other reef managers to develop and implement plans for the use of irreplaceable reef resources. During that year Bonaire also hosted the International Year of the Reef’s inaugural Dive Festival event.

As a focal point destination for the 2008 celebration of IYOR, Tourism Corporation Bonaire (TCB) has joined forces with the Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL), Earth Echo International, STINAPA and NOAA to execute a program that will continue the work that the Island began eleven years ago.

On January 7, NOAA began a mapping project, titled “Exploring Coral Reef Sustainability with New Technologies” that will create a baseline for which all other Caribbean reefs will be compared. Bonaire is noted for having the most pristine coral reef environment in the Caribbean with the highest percent of coral cover and the lowest percent of algal cover. NOAA’s team of experts are conducting research using autonomous underwater vehicles and technical diving to explore greater depths than can be reached with conventional compressed air scuba diving. NOAA completed their research on January 30, 2008.

As part of the IYOR celebration, STINAPA recently announced the designation of two fish protected areas on Bonaire’s reef to encourage the population growth of large fish species. The locations were selected by a delegation including government officials and local fisherman using criteria that included the sites containing significant coral coverage and being easy to patrol by the Marine Park. Later this year, STINAPA will begin giving free reef ecology courses for residents and interested visitors. For more information, visit www.stinapa.org.

On January 31, Tourism Corporation Bonaire and STINAPA hosted an International Year of the Reef ceremony at Wilhelmina Park where Government officials to announce the Island’s slogan for IYOR, “Bonaire, Leading By Example.”

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