THE Saint Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association (SLHTA) on Thursday (June 8) joined the global community in celebrating World Oceans Day. World Oceans Day is observed every year on June 8 to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.
The United Nations estimates that the ocean produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen, is home to most of earth’s biodiversity, and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world. Additionally, an estimated 40 million people will be employed by ocean-based industries by 2030.
The ocean is regarded as the ‘lungs of our Planet,’ a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere. This year’s theme “Planet Ocean: tides are changing” seeks to rally countries to “put the ocean first.”
SLHTA President Paul Collymore said, “The importance of the ocean in our daily lives cannot be overstated. Putting the ocean first means that we must tackle the pressing issue of plastic pollution, protect our coral reefs and promote its sustainable use. The hospitality and tourism industry benefits immensely from the ocean and the SLHTA is committed to ensuring that this vital ecosystem is protected.”
The health of Saint Lucia’s coral reefs is of critical importance as they act as nurseries which cause marine life to thrive thereby benefiting our many fisherfolk. A clean, healthy ocean will also benefit the country’s seamoss farming industry which is growing exponentially and receiving worldwide acclaim for its quality.
Said Collymore: “I am pleased to report that the SLHTA has partnered with the Saint Lucia National Conservation Fund for the creation of a Marine Health Alliance (MHA). The MHA will create ties with the tourism industry to support marine conservation, protect threatened biodiversity and promote healthy ocean ecosystems and reefs.” The SLHTA’s Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) will provide US$100,000 towards this important initiative.
Over the years the SLHTA has forged many relationships in the interest of the ocean. The SLHTA and the St. Lucia Divers Association have worked closely on many initiatives, including coral reef restoration, reef clean ups and positioning young Saint Lucians to benefit from the Blue Economy. In December 2022 the SLHTA’s TEF awarded an EC$61,000 grant to ANBAGLO to train young Saint Lucians to Divemaster competency with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. The Association is also in discussions with other stakeholders on the establishment of more artificial dive sites.
As we observe yet another World Oceans Day, the SLHTA encourages all citizens to play their part in putting the ocean first. We can all do something positive to help:
• Take the initiative – picking up litter at the beach
• Poor waste management threatens our coral reefs and our marine life. Get involved in clean-up/ beautification campaigns in your community.
• Taking all one’s detritus home from picnics on the beach.
• Support the St Lucia National Conservation Fund.
• Join the Saint Lucia National Trust
• Commit to recycling and sustainable disposal of household waste.