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The tiny nation of Belize took a giant step today in a global effort. It decided to safeguard the oceans by banning all forms of trawling in the country’s waters.
At first, Belize ignored international calls to ban the destructive fishing gear. But when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently threatened to strip the Belize Barrier Reef of its World Heritage Site status, the government finally took notice.
Facing UNESCO repercussions, Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s administration took action. He negotiated the buy-out of the country’s commercial shrimp trawlers. He also initiated a ban on all future trawling.
Shrimp trawls are notorious for the amount of bycatch they haul in. Thousands of sea turtles, marine mammals, and untargeted fish are caught in shrimp trawlers around the world every year. Meanwhile, bottom trawlers’ weighted nets effectively bulldoze the ocean floor with every pass. This destroys sensitive corals and anything else in their way.
Particularly at risk is the Belize Barrier Reef, which is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. This is the second largest coral reef system in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The reef is a destination for sailors, divers, and snorkelers around the world.
Both bareboat and crewed catamaran charters have increased significantly in recent years along the coast of Belize. Seasoned sailors and vacationers seeking less-crowded anchorages have discovered the unspoiled charm of the Belize Barrier Reef.
In conclusion, the stoppage goes into effect December 31st. Belize then becomes one of the first countries in the world to institute a complete and permanent ban on trawling in all its waters.
This entry was posted in Yacht Charter News Educational and tagged Laws, marine life, trawling, UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, bycatch, Belize yacht charter, yacht charter Belize, Belize Barrier ReefPosted on
Ask anyone who has enjoyed a yachting vacation what activity they enjoyed the most, and chances are they will tell you, “the snorkeling.” Indeed, there is something magical about donning a pair of fins, strapping on a mask and snorkel, and exploring the world below the waves.
It is this opportunity to explore first-hand the undersea world that draws so many travelers to South Florida, to enjoy a Florida yacht charter vacation, and spend part of the time off the boat – and in the water.
With so many areas easily accessible and filled with interesting sights, we asked our charter department to put their heads together and come up with their favorite snorkeling spots in South Florida. In no particular order, here are their top 3:
1. PEANUT ISLAND (Rivera Beach)
Above the waterline, it’s hardly a remote, tropical oasis. This unique eighty acre public park is a man-made island situated in the Intracoastal Waterway near the Lake Worth Inlet in close proximity to the City of Riviera Beach, and the Port of Palm Beach. Locals take small boats, kayaks and rafts and float out to the park for picnics – and it can be super crowded on weekends. The real reason to visit this destination during a private yacht charter is the opportunity to snorkel around the island and the see the sea life. The list of creatures you can encounter is a long one – squid, rays, octopus, and thousands of brilliantly-colored tropical fish. If you’re lucky, you might even see a Florida manatee!
Tip: The best time for snorkeling is around high tide. The waters here are a bath-like 85 degrees well into September.
2. KEY LARGO
The further south you head in Florida, the warmer the water gets, even in winter. It’s the warmth, both air and sea that draws boaters to the Florida Keys. Many charter yacht vacations begin in Miami. Key Largo, about a 2-3 hour cruise from Miami, is often the first night’s destination. This island is a snorkeler’s dream – shallow coral reefs, tropical sea life, and oh yeah – really warm water!!! In the summer, the water temp can climb to nearly 90 degrees – ahhhh…
Tip: A snorkel outing to John Pennekamp Coral Reef (underwater) State Park is a must.
3. DRY TORTUGAS (Key West)
At the southernmost tip of the chain of islands that make up the Florida Keys, is the island of Key West. 70 miles to the west lies Dry Tortugas National Park. 100-square miles of mostly open water with seven small islands makes this a great snorkeling destination. Rarely crowded, its accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known the world over as the home of the Civil War’s Fort Jefferson, picturesque blue waters, and abundant coral reefs and marine life.
Tip: After snorkeling, take a tour of the old fort, hosted by National Park Rangers.
Did we overlook your favorite snorkel site??? Tell us where you like to snorkel in South Florida, and what makes it special. As a thank you, we’ll send you an Eco-tote bag that you can use to carry your towels and your snorkel gear. Leave us a comment below, fill out our convenient online form, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll see you below the waves…
Wow. Can it be that the BP Deepwater Horizons oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was five years ago?
For those of us who make a living from the sea, the memories of millions of gallons of crude oil spewing into the Gulf is still fresh on our minds. As private yacht charter consultants, we look for every opportunity to promote sustainability and environmental awareness to our clients.
That’s why we were thrilled to read a recent report from a team of researchers at Australia’s Deakin University. These scientists claim to have found an effective solution to clean up a major oil spill at sea.
They have developed a special porous material that can soak up to 33 times its own weight in oil and organic solvents.
About two years ago, the researchers developed a boron nitride powder which they named, “White graphite.” The powder exhibited strong oil-absorption properties. From there, they developed a sponge containing the boron nitride powder. They broke the powder down into thin nanosheets, consisting of tiny flakes measuring only several nanometers in thickness. The flakes have tiny, microscopic holes that serve to increase the sponge’s surface area per gram to the size of five and a half tennis courts.
“The pores in the nanosheets provide the surface area to absorb oils and organic solvents up to 33 times its own weight,” says Dr Weiwei Lei, lead researcher for the University’s team.
Additionally, the sponge material is said to be flame-resistant.
The Deakin researchers are now looking for industry partners to begin trialing the technology, with the hopes it can be adapted to form ultra-light aerogels and membranes to clean up large-scale ocean oil spills. With any luck at all, the idea of a Florida yacht charter vacation being postponed or cancelled due to a nearby oil spill might become a problem of the past.
Jana Sheeder, President of 1-800 Yacht Charters is thrilled about this and says, “This is good news for charterers, and great news for our coastal wildlife and marine environment!”
What actions do you take in your daily life to improve and protect your hometown’s natural resources?
Share your actions and ideas with us below, and we’ll send you a complimentary Eco-tote bag.
This entry was posted in Educational and tagged Gadgets, protect the environment, protect marine life, marine life, eco-hero, oil spill, protect the ocean, protect wildlife, inventions, Exxon Valdiz, florida yacht charterPosted on