Community Involvement and Partnerships
New Program will Reduce Dolphin Harassment
Key West’s Safari Charters became the first business recognized under a new program known as Dolphin SMART, which seeks to reduce the impact of tourism on wild dolphins. Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA Fisheries and local partners developed the program after tour operators approached the sanctuary’s advisory council with concerns that the increasing number of charters could potentially disturb dolphins. To participate in the SMART program, charter operators must meet criteria that promote responsible viewing and prevent harassment of wild dolphins in particular, discouraging swimming with, feeding or touching dolphins, and practicing safe vessel operations around dolphins. Dolphin SMART-certified charters receive flags and stickers, and permission to use the program’s logo in their advertising.
Traveling Music Festival Drums Up Support for Watershed Cleanup
Trading their guitars and drum sets for shovels and garbage bags, hundreds of rock stars and roadies from the Vans Warped Tour music festival and Earth Echo International joined sanctuary staff for a day of cleaning up the watersheds feeding into Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Warped Tour, a traveling music festival featuring more than 50 bands that tour internationally, contributed 400 volunteers from its bands and crew to assist with a watershed cleanup in August 2007. Monterey Bay sanctuary staff and local environmental organizations led the volunteers in eco-friendly activities including picking up litter, removing invasive weeds, and planting native species at sites throughout the area. These efforts will help improve the health of the area’s watersheds, which in turn will benefit the marine sanctuary they feed into.
Program Goes International to Help World’s Oceans
Coastal development is expanding worldwide and contributing to the loss of critical habitat and fragile marine resources. In order to achieve a healthy ocean ecosystem nationally, it is also important to engage our partners worldwide so that all benefit. Program staff and numerous international partners have been working with marine resource managers in China, Vietnam and Cambodia and in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Seascape which includes Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador to look at ways to manage marine protected areas (MPAs). This exchange of knowledge and information between countries on how to effectively manage fragile marine ecosystems helps build expertise within these developing countries. In Vietnam, a network of 15 MPAs are being established by the Vietnamese Ministries of Fisheries. Through training courses, program staff are helping Vietnam build a foundation to plan for sustainable tourism and fisheries.
Fishermen and Staff Help Remove Debris in Stellwagen Bank
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary staff joined with fishermen from Scituate, Mass., to remove derelict fishing gear and other marine debris that threatens marine resources as well as commercial fishing operations in the sanctuary. In a year-long project, two local captains collected lost gear and brought it to shore for safe disposal. Derelict fishing gear poses a threat of entanglement to marine mammals, including endangered whale species, like the North Atlantic right whales and humpback whales that feed in sanctuary waters. These lost lines, nets and traps accumulate on the seafloor, where they can snare active fishing gear and threaten safe fishing operations, requiring additional labor and fishing time to free the working gear. The project is a good example of collaboration between the sanctuary and commercial fishermen working together to improve the environment.