The Saint Lucia National Conservation Fund (SLUNCF), with funds provided by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), is sponsoring a project that was conceptualized and is now being implemented by the St. Lucia Divers Association-Anbaglo.
This one-year project aims to build local capacity in coral gardening and scuba diving; establish artificial reefs and undertake coral restoration at selected sites.
Scuba Diving Training: The capacity-building component of the project aims to provide a cohort of young people training in scuba coral gardening methodologies.
The training will be up to the level of PADI Rescue Diver certification with the assistance of the Perry Institute of Marine Science.
The first phase of this component kicked off on 30th March 2021 when 10 candidates convened at Pigeon Island to complete a swim and tread assessment as well as to participate in scuba diving trials. Sandals Resorts provided the equipment and dive boat to make the experience complete.
Creation of Artificial Reefs: The project hopes to contribute to marine biodiversity and health through the creation of artificial reefs and execute a coral gardening and restoration programme.
The creation of artificial reefs will be facilitated by the sinking of four vessels at designated sites along the northwest coast including Cutty Cove off of Rodney Bay.
Sinking of Four Vessels: Over time, the sunken vessels will become habitats for various marine species.
To date, two vessels have already found their new home on the seabed with the remaining pair soon to follow. T
he vessels were acquired from the IGY Marina which also provided storage and assistance with the cleaning (scrapping) and launching of the vessels.
Coral Restoration: Coral restoration activities will be initiated through the establishment of coral farms and populating these farms with healthy coral specimens or fragments harvested from other sites.
To support the cultivation of corals, training will be provided to locals in the establishing of the coral farms, collection of healthy coral fragments; population coral trees; maintenance, and when the time comes, they will learn the out-planting procedures.
This training will be incorporated in certification as PADI Coral Reef Rescue Divers mentioned earlier.