The Oracabessa Foundation and Oracabessa Fishers Association today joined forces to officially open the dive shop at James Bond Beach In Ocho Rios.
Attended by several wellwishers, members of Tourism Enhancement Fund, Sponsors and the media. Also in attendance were Businessman Chris Blackwell, Dr Carey Wallace of the Tourism Enhancemet Fund, Karan Madan – Golden eye Home Owner , Lenford Dacosta of the Oracabessa Fishermen Association and Inilek Wilmot of the Orabessa Foundation.
The ribbon was cut by Chris Blackwell as a symbolic opening of the shop, which will Rent Snorkeling Gear, provide Sanctuary Boat Tours, and Scuba Excursion, in addition to Open Water Diving Courses and Boat Tour with snorkeling.
The Dive Shop under theme Protect, Restore, Explore is an effort of Oracabessa Foundation and Oracabessa Fishers Association. These organizations partnered 10 years ago to establish the Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary, which has gone on to become one of the most successful marine protected areas in the Caribbean.
The sanctuary is funded by the Government of Jamaica through a subvention, which we have managed to leverage to secure grant funding to cover infrastructure equipment and training costs. Grant funding is inconsistent and the government subvention only covered about 30% of the budget needs of the sanctuary, and this subvention is threatened because of the shut down of the conch industry (as government funds were derived from a tax on conch exports). We first started working on setting up the dive shop as a social enterprise to fund the conservation mission of the fish sanctuary 5 years ago.
Profits from the dive shop will go directly into a trust fund “The Oracabessa Marine Trust” and be used to fund the sanctuary.
Since being established the sanctuary has increased fish biomass in Oracabessa Bay by over 1700%, grown and planted over 14,000 corals and has established a turtle conservation program that returns over 20,000 baby turtles to sea each year.
The shop has been funded through grants from the Tourism Enhancement Fund, The German government, Seacology, The UK government and several Jamaican businesses and Individuals including Supervalue and Sunsource.