The Caribbean region has one of the world’s most diverse composition of coral reefs in the world. In the Greater Antilles, coral reefs account for over 8,600 km2 of surface area. Many of Jamaica’s coral reefs extends along the island’s north coast from Morant Point in St. Thomas to Montego Bay in St. James. However, over the last 20 years, about 80% of the reefs have been greatly impacted by rising temperatures, poor fishing practices and man- made pollution.
While we enjoy the beauty of these coral reefs, we also have a responsibility to protect & preserve the activities of this very essential ecosystem.
In honour of World Ocean’s Day 2020, here are some ways in which you can help to lessen our footprint and promoting sustainability.
8 Ways to Help Protect Coral Reefs during Your Vacation
1. Do not feed the fish
Like humans, fish need specific amino acids which they receive from their natural environment. When we feed fish harmful items like bread and fatty foods, this disrupts their digestive system as these particles are harder for them to break down and utilize. Fish play a big role in the health of the reef and this malpractice of feeding them. This further disrupts marine life as they do not perform their essential functions.
2. Do not touch the corals
Coral reefs are very fragile ecosystems that can be easily damaged. The gentlest touch can break corals (polyps) into small fragments which can take thousands of years to rebuild. Enjoy underwater adventures by adhering to the guidelines of experts and avoid kicking, standing near to and moving corals from their natural condition.
3. Reduce energy use
Become more conscious of energy conservation whether at home, work or on vacation. This will reduce the use of fossil fuels which makes our oceans less acidic and strengthens the skeleton of coral reefs. The less energy you use, the more you will help to minimize the effects of climate change on the environment. Ways to do this includes: using compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), and light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs), purchasing energy efficient appliances, upgrading your HVAC systems, installing energy smart systems.
4. Use reusable plastic products
When plastic waste ends up in the ocean as debris, it damages the habitats for many organisms and threatens the survival of marine life. Some ways to minimize utilizing the of single use plastic: carrying a reusable water bottle, store foods in non- disposable containers, travel with reusable shopping bags and recycle as much as possible.
5. Enjoy the ocean responsibly
Whether you decide to go diving, surfing, kayaking or simply relaxing on the beach, it is important to take care of the space you occupy. Avoid littering your surroundings and throwing harmful objects overboard which may stifle underwater plant & animal life. Do not remove items from the sea for personal collections unless advised otherwise that is it safe to do so.
6. Buy local
Local suppliers are warriors for healthy seas and sustainable living. Their products usually have less impact on the environment and also healthier for you to consume. are warriors for healthy seas and sustainable living. Limiting import reduces the omission of CO2 into the air – which controls increased temperatures that hurt the corals. In supporting local vendors and skilled workers such as fishermen & farmers, you also help to support the local economy which helps to advance the country’s development.
7. Educate yourself about marine life
Learning more about life under water allows you to become more knowledgeable about how your actions affect sea creatures, and other global phenomenon like global warming and climate change.
8. Get involved in your local community
Many environmental organizations organize local cleanups to remove excess waste material from coastlines. Find out how you can participate in these activities and invite your family and friends.
For more information on the Round Hill Reef Gardens, visit https://youtu.be/0BZubwnjRoA