On December 14th, 2012, Dive Friends Bonaire launched Debris Free Bonaire, a new environmental program. Designed to encourage visitors to Bonaire to volunteer a small amount of their vacation time to collect plastic marine debris from Bonaire’s east coast, Debris Free Bonaire empowers volunteers by providing a visual demonstration of the amount of debris collectively removed from the environment. It also rewards their efforts by giving them the opportunity to win exciting raffle prizes.
Bonaire is famous for its pristine marine park and award-winning diving. When Dive Friends Bonaire hosts quarterly Clean-Up Dives, efforts are focused upon Bonaire’s various piers in order to have enough trash for volunteers to pick up. On most dive sites, there is no marine debris to be found. However, the eastern, windward coastline is accumulating an enormous volume of plastic debris that drifts over on an ocean current from South America.
Bonaire attracts visitors who are interested in maintaining Bonaire’s immaculate ecology, but not everyone can time their visit to coincide with a clean-up dive. With Debris Free Bonaire, they will all be able to donate a small amount of time to help the environment of Bonaire in a way that is easy, fun, and rewarding.
Anyone who wants to participate can just visit any one of Dive Friends Bonaire’s five dive centers to collect a large mesh bag. They will be shown on a map where the main areas of plastic marine debris are located and make the scenic drive over to the east coast at their convenience. It won’t take long to fill up the bag with plastic debris, but it’s worthwhile to take some time to explore the rugged, uninhabited coastline.
When they return the bag to Dive Friends Bonaire @ Hamlet Oasis, the plastic will be added to the 10 cubic meter container. It’s made from transparent mesh so that everyone may witness how much debris has been collectively removed from the marine environment. Volunteers can be photographed in front of the container. The photos will be uploaded onto the Debris Free Bonaire website so that everyone can watch while the debris is collected.
Each time the container is completely filled, the plastic will be sorted for recycling or proper disposal. All of the volunteers’ names who filled that container will be entered into a raffle for prizes such as free accommodation or diving.
The project has been overwhelmingly supported by both the local and international business community. Sponsoring businesses include: Addo’s Bookstore, Beachcomber Villas, Bon Photo, BON Travel, Bonaire Automation, Bonaire Scuba Services, Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy, Bonaire Travel, Boto Blanku Marine Services, Coco Palm Garden, East Coast Boat Diving, Green Planet Maps, Kryioyo Paint, InfoBonaire.com, Suunto, Rocargo, Bonaire Seaside Apartments, Sign Sudio, and Van Epps Kunneman Van Doorne. Premier Sponsors include: Bocar, Body Glove, Brandaris, Budget Car Rental, Cressi, Deep Blue Gear, Djambo, Hamlet Oasis, Harbortown Real Estate, Mares, Van Dijk Soliana Bonapart & Aardenburg III, Playa Trading, Scubapro, and Sherwood Scuba.
Additional information about the project is available at: www.debrisfreebonaire.com