International Year of the Reef Week a great success in Bonaire

 International Year of the Reef Week a great success in Bonaire

Last week was designated as the International Year of the Reef Week on Bonaire. Bonaire being a leader in marine preservation and the winner of CTOâ??s and Islandsâ?? Sustainable Tourism Award 2008, wants to give its contribution to this global celebration / awareness campaign. Many, especially the islandâ??s visitors did attend the various activities especially organized during this week. The week kicked off with the opening "Taste of Bonaire", where the Lt. Governor of the island Mr. Herbert Domacasse signed the "Declaration of Reef Rights".

The week featured many other activities such as kayaking around Klein Bonaire, Reef Fish Count, several presentations by Bryan Dias from CORAL Reef Alliance and Jan and Alexandra Cousteau from EarthEcho International and several special dives with CORAL, Bonaireâ??s own Jerry Ligon, the Cousteaus and more.

Besides this special week, Bonaire has joined forces with STINAPA, Coral Reef Alliance, EarthEcho and NOAA and will be organizing more activities throughout the year to help raise awareness of the importance of preserving our reefs. In doing so, Bonaire is putting more emphasis on the slogan it created for this year; Bonaire, leading by example.

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The IYOR waste reduction campaign was launched on Sunday, June 22nd 2008, during the "Taste of Bonaire" in the Wilhelmina Park. This campaign is one of series activities throughout the year to celebrate the International Year Of the Reef 2008 (IYOR) calling attention to the importance of coral reef conservation.

In partnership with WWF Netherlands, Selibon and TCB, STINAPA Bonaire started this awareness campaign to inform visitors about the importance of waste reduction for such a small island. It will target two of Bonaireâ??s most hazardous waste products left behind by tourists: plastic water bottles and batteries. The campaign will run until the end of this year, also the end of the IYOR.

The campaign consists of two components the first of which is reducing plastic bottle waste. Visitors will be made aware that Bonaireâ??s tap water is one of the purest and safest in the world and that there is no reason to purchase bottled water and create unnecessary waste that cannot be recycled on Bonaire. Our landfill has already reached its maximum capacity. Tourists will be encouraged to refill their bottles with Bonaireâ??s tap water. So there will be less plastic waste on the island. STINAPA will use radio spots to promote awareness among our visitors informing them that our tap water is safe to drink. The spots are called "environmental breaking news" and broadcasted in English and Dutch.

The second component is reducing battery waste. The Island does not have a proper toxic waste disposal system. Yearly more than 100,000 used batteries end up on our landfill. That is more than 6,000 pounds of heavy metals and toxins. Corroding batteries leak toxic chemicals into the soil and, ultimately, the sea. Tourists will be encouraged to help us reduce toxic waste by depositing their used batteries in the designated containers at their dive schools. The used batteries will be collected and shipped to destinations where there are facilities to properly recycle them. More Information can be found on the website