How time flies!
It may come as surprise to many to realize that Placencia Mooring Masters (PMM) is now entering their third year since starting the Placencia Mooring Buoy Project, following the IcranMar “Conservation in Action” workshops hosted by CORAL & WWF in 2006.
Over the last 2 years PMM has installed & maintained a total of 22 anchor mooring buoys including doubling the anchor pins on most of the dive sites, by the time the Christmas season started all except 3 dive site mooring buoys – which require moving to slightly different locations were fully functional. So what all has PMM been doing since October’s last update – read on to find out.
In November PMM was notified that we had successfully been awarded a small grant from “PROJECT AWARE” Foundation, this grant is to assist with gasoline, equipment & consumable materials used in the maintenance of the buoys and to purchase additional materials to aid in better visibility of the buoys to aid in reducing prop damage to pick up lines and the buoys. So far the grant has already purchased a large cooler used for provisions when crews are out for 2 or more days at a time working, scrubbing brushes and gloves used to clean the buoys and lines.
By mid January some of the materials & equipment purchased from the PROJECT AWARE GRANT should arrive in Placencia, consisting of 8” bright yellow vinyl buoys to be used on the pickup lines, these will assist captains to better see the pickup lines and the way the current is running when approaching the buoys as well as adding additional floatation to the pickup lines. Marine grade yellow reflective tape to go on the buoys aiding better visibility of the buoys, two rope splicing tools and some 7/8” thimbles.
PMM will be holding in the near future another splice workshop & also one to repair damage buoys with fiberglass. From the MnM Hardware prize voucher won by Mr. Robert Werlwas during the PMM raffle in October, which he generously donated back to PMM, has been used to purchase tools and materials used during cleaning & installing mooring buoys. Also in November PMM was requested by the Fisheries Dept to install a four manta pin anchor mooring buoy on their behalf, for the ACCL cruise ship which has been visiting Placencia for many years. The site survey was conducted by marine Biologist Lisa Carne, Erwin Westby and Faygon Villanueva. Thanks goes to Joy Tours for donated the site survey boat, dive gears and Seahorse Dive Shop for donating the dive tanks.
The installation crew was Erwin Westby (TDI course director) – crew leader and site coordinator, Mark Tucker (Dive Master) – drill pump operator, James Leslie (Dive Master) as drill operator, new to PMM volunteer Conrad Villanueva (Dive Instructor) being trained on drilling and installations and boat captain Ed Carr. PMM wishes to thank Rican Hernandez for supplying the site boat, Joy Tours for donating dive gears and Seahorse Dive Shop for donating the dive tanks & air. This anchor mooring buoy will be used by the ACCL “Grande Mariner” from Jan – March 2009, easy to identify as it is the only large green buoy with 2 smaller buoys on the yellow pickup line in the Placencia Bay.
Due to rough weather or donated boats during the first part of December PMM was unable to get a team out to clean & inspect the PMM installed buoys until December 18th. Over a 2 day period, PMM conducted cleaning & repairs of the PMM installed inner reef buoys, this was made possible by the generous donation by Julian & Beverly Cabral for the crew to use Whipray Caye as a base. Utilizing donated skiffs by Ed Carr & Rican Hernandez, the 5 man crew cleaned, inspected & repaired these buoys. With two “site” boats available to the crew they worked as two separate teams enabling them to work efficiently during the short time period.
In one boat was Erwin Westby – Crew leader (TDI course director) with dive master James Leslie now on his 3rd trip working as a volunteer with PMM and new to PMM volunteer dive master Harry Neal, in the other boat was snorkeler/captain Ed Carr & dive master Mark Tucker both long established volunteers with PMM. We would also like to thank Nautical Inn for donating dive tanks & South Reef Belize for donating pumping the air for the tanks and the Placencia Fishing Coop for donating ice.
The day following the crews return to Placencia, there was a fast turn round to get back out to clean and refurbish the PMM buoys outer reef, made possible by the generous donation by The Moorings of a catamaran for the crew to use as a base, Rican Hernandez again donated the site boat and Ed Carr was the catamaran captain. The PMM volunteer dive crew worked hard over 3 days to reinstall missing dive sites and clean the buoys & down lines of barnacles and algae growth ready for the Christmas tourism season. The crew were Erwin Westby crew leader & instructor, dive master Mark Tucker, dive master James Leslie, instructor Lisa Carne and new to PMM volunteer Dive Master “Tulu” Villanueva.
Again PMM wishes to thank Turtle Inn for donating dive tanks, as well as tanks donated by Nautical Inn and South Reef Belize for donating the air. Also Joy Tours for donating the dive gear and the Placencia Fishing Coop for donating ice. Without this support from tour operators and the community the Placencia Mooring Buoy Project wouldn’t be as successful as is and continues to be.
Looking ahead to 2009, PMM future plans include installing more dive sites anchor mooring buoys as well as increasing inner reef anchor mooring buoys for charter vessels. PMM will also be holding splice workshops as well as a workshop to repair damaged buoys. As many of you know PMM is a voluntary group and our operating funding comes from small grants, donations and from the sale of fundraising merchandise.
In early 2009 we will be adding to our already popular wristband fundraising merchandise, a new fundraising product - PMM logo with slogan “I helped to Protect Belize’s Reef” neoprene mask straps called “Slap Straps”. A limited amount will be available in 10 different colors, yellow, red, pink, charcoal, green, turquoise, royal, navy, purple and black and will be available from Placencia Tourism Center, all participating dive shops and gift shops supporting the project.
In donations PMM recently received a $50USD anonymous donation made in honor of “Rich Wilson” CORAL REEF ALLIANCE, Rich Wilson is the program manager who along with Shalini Cawich WWF lead the ICRANMAR “Conservation In Action” workshops, which ultimately lead to the Placencia Mooring Buoy Project. Thanks to Mr. Robert Hirshon cash donation of $40USD ($80BZD) .PMM wishes to thank TMM Charters for donating the storage shed for PMM to store our equipment and to Juni Westby for building shelves and door for the storeroom.
If you are interested in making a difference by helping this project continue to protect the reef through the use of mooring buoys, please contact Marion Carr – PMM Project coordinator (email@example.com) or through any of the steering committee members – Erwin Westby, Louis Godfrey, Ed Carr, Patti Ramirez, Patu Young, Arthur Westby Jr., Kris Small & Dwayne Young.
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