TURKS & CAICOS REEF FUND AND SWA ENVIRONMENTAL TO HOST ECOTOURISM WORKSHOP ON SOUTH CAICOS

15th January 2018, Providenciales, TCI – The Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF), the only active environmental non-governmental organization in the Turks & Caicos Islands, and SWA Environmental, a TCI-based company, specializing in sustainable environmental management through scientific research, environmental impact assessment and support for environmentally appropriate development projects, have been awarded a grant, under Cornell University’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise’s Sustainable Asset Management Program (STAMP), to assist people on South Caicos, and other interested persons, in establishing ecotourism businesses on and around East Caicos. The grant, entitled Assessing the Viability of Alternative and Improved Livelihoods in Sustainable Tourism at the East Caicos Key Biodiversity Area, includes two workshops, fieldwork and the development of business plans, using stakeholder participation.

In association with the grant, a preliminary workshop will be held on South Caicos on February 6th 2018 at the South Caicos Ocean and Beach Resort. All members of the public who are interested in starting an ecotourism business are invited to attend. Participants will be asked to provide feedback on how they use the natural environment on East Caicos, where they go, ideas for ecotourism businesses and any challenges that the foresee. The project team is encouraging everyone on South Caicos, and others who would like to start an ecotourism business, to take part. Participants will be given a $50 stipend to compensate for their time and input.

“Fishing for conch, lobster and commercially attractive fish species is the primary livelihood of the population South Caicos; however, fish, conch and lobster stocks are declining, and traditional ways of living are becoming increasingly difficult. Strategies to diversify the South Caicos economy towards ecotourism would reduce dependence on traditional fisheries and improve qualities of life,” said Kathleen Wood of SWA Environmental, who also functions as the volunteer Research Director for the TCRF. “By working with local stakeholders, such as fisherfolk, DECR, chefs, homemakers and others, we will develop viable business plans for ecotourism opportunities, making sure that conservation serves to protect the interests of both people and the environment.”

The outcomes of this project will include up to five business plans for ecotourism ventures and will integrate with research already conducted at East Caicos by TCRF and SWA Environmental. Ongoing support for establishing ecotourism businesses from TCRF and SWA Environmental will also be provided. Don Stark of TCRF said, “the addition of stakeholder input and participation in environmental decision-making is critical to ensuring appropriate conservation management and sustainable uses for the East Caicos ecosystem.

“TCRF works with government and the private sector with an aim of sustainably conserving TCI’s unique natural resources for the benefit of all the people who rely on them and for generations to come,” Don Stark of TCRF concluded. “We are working on several projects, such as dive moorings, scientific research and coral nurseries, to meet this aim. Conservation cannot be successful if it does not benefit people. By helping to develop and support viable ecotourism businesses, we can ensure that TCI remains Beautiful by Nature, while at the same time serving the needs of people.”

Anyone with questions about this project can contact Don Stark or Kathleen Wood at donstark@tcreef.org and kw@swa.tc. Everyone is also encouraged to become a member of the TCRF to help preserve and protect the environment of the TCI. You can become a member by going to the TCRF website www.tcreef.org/donate.html - or by contacting Don Stark by phone (347-8455) or the above email address.

About TCRF

Founded in 2010, the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is the only active environmental advocacy organization in the TCI. It is an all volunteer-run organization that provides funding for education, research and conservation programs to individuals, organizations and agencies that help to preserve and protect the environment of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Our goal is to have at least 85% of all funds raised through voluntary contributions from divers and snorkelers visiting the Turks & Caicos Islands directed to the Fund’s programs.

Anyone wishing to donate or assist the TCRF in any way can contact them through their website, www.TCReef.org. Scuba divers visiting the islands are encouraged to make a $10 donation through the purchase of a dive tag that can be attached to their dive gear to show their support. Snorkelers visiting the islands can show their support through the $5 purchase of a pink or blue silicone wristband. A complete list of outlets for TCRF merchandise can be found on the organization’s website.

TURKS AND CAICOS REEF FUND ANNOUNCES FISCAL YEAR 2018 ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND FINANCIAL RESULTS

4 September 2018, Providenciales, TCI – The Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF), the leading environmental non-governmental organization in the Turks & Caicos Islands, proudly reported today on its fiscal year 2018 accomplishments and financial results.

“Fiscal Year 2018 was a year of many important milestones for the TCRF,” said Don Stark, Chairman of the non-profit.  “We were pleased to be able to help with hurricane recovery efforts by raising funds for the TCI Red Cross and assisted a fellow researcher secure a substantial grant to help with the Dominica hurricane relief effort.  We also moved forward with numerous research projects.”

Highlights of the fiscal year, which ended on 31 July 2018 include:

  • Helped to raise $54,500 in hurricane relief funds for the Turks & Caicos hurricane recovery effort.

  • Completed a project funded by the Cornell University Sustainable Asset Management Program (STAMP) which focused on identifying eco-tourism business opportunities for South Caicos residents and helped five individuals prepare preliminary business plans for new eco-tourism businesses on South Caicos.

  • Completed a comprehensive underwater survey of the pristine coral reefs of the coast of East Caicos to help the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) develop a management plan for the area.

  • ·Continued our EU funded coral nursery project with a total of 10 nursery structures installed (6 off the NW Coast of Provo and 4 off the coast of Grant Turk).

  • Renewed our Memorandum of Understanding with DECR to extend our management of the dive, snorkel and yacht moorings throughout the TCI.

  • Facilitated the participation of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in the annual Piping Plover Migratory Bird Census.

  • Continued our educational outreach programs with Clement Howell High School and British West Indies Collegiate.

  • Secured funding to initiate a coral reef health monitoring effort in the Princess Alexandra National Park and surrounding waters.

  • Secured a financial commitment to revitalize and improve the Smith’s Reef Snorkel Trail.

“After 8 years of effort, the TCRF is becoming recognized as a lead research, advocacy and education provider related to the TCI environment,” said Chairman Stark.  “We are pleased that securing grant funding for various projects has been successful, but we still need the support of local residents and businesses in order to keep up our efforts.”

From a financial perspective, the TCRF had a good year.  Total income was just over $372,000 of which $309,000 was in funds restricted to specific projects.  Total project expense was $272,500 or 73% of income.  Total expenses were $307,000, so project expenses as a share of total expenses was 89%.  TCRF ended the fiscal year with a cash balance of just over $111,000, $71,500 of which are funds restricted for specific projects.

“Our goal from day one was to invest at least 85% of every dollar raised into the projects we undertake,” said Chairman Stark. “Every year since we started, we have met or exceeded that goal with 89% of total expenses invested into specific projects this year.  We keep our overhead low by relying heavily on volunteers to help us complete all of our projects and we are greatly indebted to all those volunteers.”

About TCRF

Founded in 2010, the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is the only active environmental advocacy organization in the TCI.  It is an all volunteer-run organization that provides funding for education, research and conservation programs to individuals, organizations and agencies that help to preserve and protect the environment of the Turks & Caicos Islands.  Our goal is to have at least 85% of all funds raised through voluntary contributions from divers and snorkelers visiting the Turks & Caicos Islands directed to the Fund’s programs. 

Anyone wishing to donate or assist the TCRF in any way can contact them through their website, www.TCReef.org.  Scuba divers visiting the islands are encouraged to make a $10 donation through the purchase of a dive tag that can be attached to their dive gear to show their support.  Snorkelers visiting the islands can show their support through the $5 purchase of a pink or blue silicone wristband. 

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The Turks & Caicos Reef Fund has invited Dr. Melanie McField, Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Healthy Reef Initiative (HRI) to visit the TCI and conduct a workshop.

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The workshop, to be held from 9 am to 4 pm on January 29 at the Ocean Club Training Center (next to the Opus Restaurant), will focus on how the HRI has established a decade long coral reef monitoring program for the Mesoamerican Reef. The Mesoamerican Reef includess the second largest barrier reef system in the Western Hemisphereworld, second only to the Great Barrier Reef. It runs from Mexico, through all of Belize, Guatemala and northern Honduras.

Over ten years ago, the Healthy Reef Initiative was established with the mission to:

• Promote the application of Healthy Reefs Indicators by managers, policy makers and other leaders concerned with the integrity of the Mesoamerican Reef

• Provide standardized analysis of reliable scientific data to improve reef ecosystem management

• Serve as an open forum for information sharing and networking among science and conservation partners.

HRI now includes 69 partner organizations including NGOs, academia, government and private sector and They produces a biennial report card on the health of the Mesoamerican Reef. The 2018 Report Card and the most recent one was just released, demonstrating that this decade of management and . This ongoing monitoring effort has resulted in conservation efforts that have resulted in the health of the Mesoamerican Reef to improving from a poor rating in 2008 to a fair rating in 2018.

Dr. McField will share with the workshop attendees the process they have gone through to set up the monitoring of over 300 sites throughout the Mesoamerican Reef, how they evaluate the data gathered and prepare the report card and also how they have funded the effort. The goal of the workshop is to assist TCRF and interested stakeholders, including the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources, in establishing a similar monitoring and reef health reporting program for the TCI barrier reef system, the third largest in the worldone of the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Anyone interested in attending the workshop is invited to attend.

Questions and RSVPs should be directed to Don Stark at donstark@tcreef.org or via phone at 649-347-8455.

Archeologic Dig of Ancient Lucayan Site on Providenciales

Ancient Cultural Preservation Effort at Long Bay Dig

An important 14th Century Lucayan archaeological site is to be excavated this October near the west end of Long Bay.   The "South Bank Site", near the Caicos Marina, is to be explored and analyzed in search of information on Lucayan relationships with local marine resources, kinship networks and  trading partners among the indigenous people from Hispaniola and Cuba.

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The dig will be led by archeologist Dr. Shaun Sullivan. Dr. Sullivan began work in the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1976.   Much of the work he has done was on Middle Caicos, however, Providenciales has its own deep culture history and archaeological sites.  At the Long Bay site Dr. Sullivan has conducted test excavations and found that it was the location of a Lucayan village, occupied during the 14th century A.D. (according to  radiocarbon dating) and found it to be unusually rich in ceramics imported from contemporary Lucayan brethren from the Greater Antilles.   

Windward Long Bay Ltd. - developer of the South Bank development - is a major underwriter of the project and is facilitating this scientific research, as a contribution to island cultural preservation in anticipation of follow on development of the site.   Sail Beluga, along with the non-profits Turks and Caicos Reef Fund, and the Anthropological Research Council are sponsors of this project.  Materials recovered from the site will be curated by the Turks and Caicos National Museum.  Students from local schools are expected to be participants in the excavation. 

We need your help.  The South Bank dig is in search of volunteer field crew members and financial contributors.   We invite you to help with this important cultural preservation effort in any way you can.  

Those interested in taking part in the dig as field crew members please contact Dr. Shaun Sullivan   sullivans@anthrop-research-council.org   703-966-3219

The anticipated project costs, including the excavations and follow on laboratory analyses, are $24,000.   We are beginning with pledges of $18,000, including a donation of $1,000 from the TCRF.   

TCRF Awarded Grant to Study East Caicos Reefs

TURKS & CAICOS REEF FUND AWARDED A GRANT TO STUDY EAST CAICOS CORAL REEFS.

15 February 2017, Providenciales, TCI – The Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF), the only active environmental non-governmental organization in the Turks & Caicos Islands, has been awarded a €50,000 grant to study the coral reefs off the coast of East Caicos. The grant, titled “Understanding East Caicos KBA’s Corals and Coasts: A Key to Safeguarding TCI’s Future,” was awarded by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) BEST 2.0 Programme (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Oversees Countries and Territories). Funding for the programme comes from the European Union.

“We are very pleased to be the recipient of this grant,” said Don Stark, Chairman of TCRF. “This is the second grant from the BEST 2.0 Programme we are involved in and appreciate the support of the IUCN and the EU Government.”

The project will be spearheaded by Don Stark of TCRF, in association with Kathleen McNary Wood of SWA Environmental and Marsha Pardee of MerAngel Ecological Services.

“The nearshore waters off the coast of East Caicos contain some of the best remaining unspoiled coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean region,” said Ms. Wood, who also functions as the volunteer Research Director for the TCRF. “With the exception of only a small portion of marine habitat contained within the RAMSAR Nature Reserve, none of the coral reefs surrounding East Caicos have any conservation status, management plan or monitoring plan. East Caicos’ remoteness, the island’s uninhabited status and its limited use have historically protected the island’s marine resources from significant degradation; however, Page 2 of 3 existing development schemes and increasing resource pressures are altering this status quo. Without adequate conservation, management and monitoring protocols in place, East Caicos’ fragile resources are at risk from uncontrolled land-based development, inappropriate and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing pressure and other unregulated and unsustainable pressures, increasing the island’s coral reefs’ vulnerability to global climate change and associated impacts.”

The project aims to address the current limitations of management and monitoring policy and improve long-term conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services within East Caicos’ coral reef ecosystems through the development of conservation zones and management and monitoring protocols. The selection of conservation zone classifications will be based on multi-criteria evaluation, which incorporates 16 ecosystem service and biodiversity values and quantitative and qualitative assessment based on Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) Caribbean methods. Conservation zone classifications and management and monitoring protocols will be agreed via workshops with the TCI management authority (DECR) and local stakeholders. After project completion, TCRF, in conjunction with DECR, will establish regular monitoring protocols at two-year intervals. The project methods and results will be shared via multi-media and open-access online media.

“This is a very important project which help DECR identify new conservation zones around East Caicos based on stakeholder input, create management and monitoring protocols for this important cultural and environmental asset of the TCI, and provide for the ongoing management and monitoring of the gorgeous and unspoiled coral reefs off East Caicos,” said Mr. Stark. “We look forward to working closely with DECR staff to implement this project over the course of 2017.”

“East Caicos is one of the largest remaining, uninhabited islands left in the Caribbean and tropical Atlantic regions,” said Ms. Wood. “It has some of the most pristine stands of critically endangered staghorn (Acropora cervicornis) and elkhorn (Acropora palmate) corals seen anywhere around the TCI, and we have only started to study the all the reefs around East Caicos.”

Mr. Stark encourages everyone to become a member of the TCRF to help preserve and protect the environment of the TCI. You can become a member by going to their website – www.tcreef.org/donate.html - or by contacting Mr. Stark by phone (347-8455) or email (donstark@tcreef.org).

About TCRF

Founded in 2010, the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is the only active environmental advocacy organization in the TCI. It is an all volunteer-run organization that provides funding for education, research and conservation programs to individuals, organizations and agencies that help to preserve and protect the environment of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Our goal is to have at least 85% of all funds raised through voluntary contributions from divers and snorkelers visiting the Turks & Caicos Islands directed to the Fund’s programs.

Anyone wishing to donate or assist the TCRF in any way can contact them through their website, www.TCReef.org. Scuba divers visiting the islands are encouraged to make a $10 donation through the purchase of a dive tag that can be attached to their dive gear to show their support. Snorkelers visiting the islands can show their support through the $5 purchase of a pink or blue silicone wristband. A complete list of outlets for TCRF merchandise can be found on the organization’s website.

TCRF Issues FY 2016 Update

TURKS & CAICOS REEF FUND REVIEW FINDS THE DOLPHIN COVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT TO BE DEFECTIVE.

10 August 2016, Providenciales, TCI – The 2016 Fiscal Year for the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF) ended on 31 July 2016. “It has been an exciting and productive year,” said Don Stark, Chairman of the TCRF. “We raised over $110,000 during the fiscal year, about $45,000 of which was earmarked for the acquisition of a work boat for the TCRF.”

One of our most important projects completed in FY 2016 was in the area of educational outreach, an area in which the TCRF is increasing its focus. The organization completed a marine ecology curriculum for students in Grades 1-6 with assistance from the TCI National Museum and the TCIG Department of Environment and Coastal Resources and this curriculum has been adopted by the TCIG Department of Education. It is being incorporated into the National Curriculum which is currently undergoing revision. TCRF, the National Museum and DECR will conduct a teacher's workshop at the end of August to introduce their contribution to the National Curriculum.

In addition to this major accomplishment, TCRF has continued our work with the Reef Action Team at British West Indies Collegiate; this year helping 12 students gain their advanced open water scuba certification. TCRF also supported the work of a Keene (New Hampshire) University researcher to support the scuba certification of 6 Clement Howell High School students.

Another educational accomplishment was that, for the second time, the TCRF funded a local TCI student to attend one of the summer sessions at the School for Field Studies on South Caicos. In this program, students have the opportunity to help conduct marine biology related research and learn a great deal about the TCI marine environment.

But educational accomplishments weren't the only things TCRF accomplished in FY 2016. TCRF worked with the staff from Turtle Cove Marina to install new, permanent sea floor anchors for the channel markers from Sellars Cut to Turtle Cove Marina. The organization distributed 5,000 environmentally friendly mosquito control disks (Mosquito Dunks®) free of charge to local residents on all the inhabited islands of the TCI to help prevent the spread of mosquito borne illnesses. And, of course, the organization continues to work on the installation and maintenance of what now consists of a network of over 100 dive and snorkel boat moorings.

Last spring TCRF purchased a 30 ft. Island Hopper boat to support their on water work. This was made possible by two generous donors as well as smaller donations from the membership. The boat is being outfitted with the equipment needed to continue the mooring, coral monitoring and coral restoration work. The boat was successfully driven down from the Florida Keys in early April.

TCRF was also successful in opening up the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process used by the Planning Department to evaluate proposed new developments. This was accomplished by lobbying of TCIG when the Dolphin Cove project developers on Grand Turk submitted their EIA. Comments from TCRF and those of several expert advisors to TCRF submitted comments on the EIA to the Planning Department. TCRF and their advisors recommended Planning reject the EIA submitted as it is totally inadequate. TCRF was also successful in gaining approval of their first grant - for a joint project with 3 other islands in the Caribbean. The focus of the 3-year project is to establish a coral nursery for critically endangered Staghorn and Elkhorn corals on all 4 islands and then use these nursery corals to restore local reefs where these two fast growing reef builders have disappeared. TCRF will be working closely with DECR to implement this research project.

“Looking forward to FY2017,” added Mr. Stark, “we are working with DECR and the Department of Culture to host the 1st Annual Lionfish Festival and Derby on Provo (October 29) and on Grand Turk and South Caicos (November 5). We will be aggressively pursuing our new coral nursery project with the goal of having at least 5 coral ladders installed and loaded with coral fragments before the end of the 2017 fiscal year. We will also be pursuing several grant opportunities through various funding mechanisms that are available to us.”

Mr. Stark encourages everyone to become a member of the TCRF to help preserve and protect the environment of the TCI. You can become a member by going to their website – www.tcreef.org/donate.html - or by contacting Mr. Stark by phone (347-8455) or email (donstark@tcreef.org).

About TCRF

Founded in 2010, the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is the only active environmental advocacy organization in the TCI. It is an all volunteer-run organization that provides funding for education, research and conservation programs to individuals, organizations and agencies that help to preserve and protect the environment of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Our goal is to have at least 85% of all funds raised through voluntary contributions from divers and snorkelers visiting the Turks & Caicos Islands directed to the Fund’s programs.

Anyone wishing to donate or assist the TCRF in any way can contact them through their website, www.TCReef.org. Scuba divers visiting the islands are encouraged to make a $10 donation through the purchase of a dive tag that can be attached to their dive gear to show their support. Snorkelers visiting the islands can show their support through the $5 purchase of a pink or blue silicone wristband. A complete list of outlets for TCRF merchandise can be found on the organization’s website.

Dolphin Cove EIA Found To Be Wholely Inadequate

TURKS & CAICOS REEF FUND REVIEW FINDS THE DOLPHIN COVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT TO BE DEFECTIVE.

22 JUNE 2016, Providenciales, TCI – The Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF), the only environmental advocacy non-governmental organization in the TCI, with the help of several outside expert advisors have completed their review of the Dolphin Cove Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and have determined that the document is wholly inadequate to justify giving the project Detailed Development Permission by the Planning Board at this time. A 39-page document outlining the deficiencies found in the EIA has been submitted to the Department of Planning and the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources.


“We had to fight hard to gain access to this document, despite the fact that the Environmental Charter, a treaty signed by the TCI Government and the UK Government in 2001, mandates that this process be open and public,” said Don Stark, Chairman of the TCRF. “Once we were able to gain access after appealing to both the Permanent Secretary for Planning and the Attorney General’s office, we spent many hours of our own time and that of volunteer experts in various fields covered by the EIA reviewing the document. This is the first time that an EIA has been made available for public review. In sum, the document should be rejected by Planning and if they are serious about moving forward, a new and properly conducted EIA must be done.”

Here are just a few of the deficiencies the TCRF and its advisors identified:

1. The conclusion of the report, as stated in the Non-Technical Summary, “It is anticipated that the proposed development will have, overall, a positive impact to the economy by increasing financial revenue in Grand Turk, while simultaneously maintaining the integrity of the natural environment encompassing the project site” is not based on any facts or actual data. No quantitative socioeconomic impact analysis was conducted to determine whether the Dolphin Cove facility would decrease the revenue of existing tour operators who are also dependent upon the cruise ship visitors for their livelihood.

2. The statement, “The construction of the Dolphin attraction is anticipated to stimulate sustainable economic growth in Grand Turk through increases in annual tourist visitation” is not based on any existing or collected data and, consequently, is not a valid statement.

3. The second objective is the “assurance of all concerned stakeholders that environmental considerations have been taken into account in project planning“ has not been achieved as only a small selected group of local stakeholders were consulted and no local or international environmental experts or organizations were consulted.

4. The “experts” used for parts of the EIA are not qualified. The marine mammal expert does not meet the qualifications for a NOAA qualified marine mammal expert, as he only has a high school degree and no formal science training. The Socioeconomic Assessment done by a person without any training in that area. The terrestrial consultant misidentifies a significant proportion of the species listed as present at the site, many of which do not occur in TCI during the times that they were reportedly observed.

5. The authors of the EIA themselves state in several places that the bird surveys were inadequate (and additional surveys should be conducted before construction begins) as the bird surveys completed were conducted only during the month of July and did not survey during breeding and winter migratory bird populations, yet they conclude the impact is not significant – clearly an irrational conclusion given their own stated shortcomings of the survey work completed.

6. Similarly, the authors of the EIA recommend additional surveys of marine habitats “ensure the conclusions presented here are valid and accurate”, but then again they conclude the impact will be not significant, another conclusion not based on fact.

7. As with the marine habitat and bird assessments, the turtle assessment concludes the impact will be not significant despite the authors saying that no surveys were done during turtle breeding season (and this area is a known turtle breeding area).

8. There are no economic analyses in the report, but they conclude that there will be a positive economic benefit. Such a conclusion needs to be factually quantified and measured against potential negative financial impacts (e.g., other tour operators losing business and stay over visitors not coming as a protest the dolphinarium).

9. The proposal to use local swimming pools to house the dolphins in the event of an emergency is impractical and illegal under TCI’s Marine Mammal Regulations.

10.No provisions in the plan are made for a pool or pools to isolate sick, injured or pregnant dolphins, which are required by local regulations and international standards.

11.The report is inherently biased, with much of the “data” presented being provided by the proponents of the development. No alternatives are suggested, and predicted environmental and socio-economic impacts are underplayed or ignored.

“World sentiment has been shifting over the past few years against captive marine mammal facilities as evidenced by the recent decision by Sea World to stop their orca breeding program and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland’s decision to remove their dolphins from exhibit and build a natural marine sanctuary for them,” added Mr. Stark. “In fact, our organization has already been in contact with the National Aquarium about considering the Turks and Caicos as the location for the sanctuary they intend to build for their 20 dolphins. As many are aware, since they participated in the effort, the TCI was the site where the last three captive dolphins from the UK were brought and successfully rehabilitated and released into the wild. A dolphin sanctuary, which is a natural habitat for dolphins, but without the entertainment features of a commercial swim-with-the dolphins facility like Dolphin Cove, would fit much better with the TCI’s ‘Beautiful by Nature’ marketing and would allow for economic benefits, while eliminating the negative stigma associated with swim with dolphin facilities.”

“TCRF believes that the TCI deserves an EIA process that is competent, open to everyone and effective and complies with international standards for best practices for public consutation. We are committed to ensuring that this takes place,” said Mr. Stark. TCRF will make available to any one interested a copy of the review of the EIA sent to Planning and DECR. Simply send a request to info@tcreef.org.

About TCRF

Founded in 2010, the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is an all volunteer-run organization that provides funding for education, research and conservation programs to individuals, organizations and agencies that help to preserve and protect the environment of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Our goal is to have at least 85% of all funds raised through voluntary contributions from divers and snorkelers visiting the Turks & Caicos Islands directed to the Fund’s programs.

Anyone wishing to donate or assist the TCRF in any way can contact them through their website, www.TCReef.org. Scuba divers visiting the islands are encouraged to make a $10 donation through the purchase of a dive tag that can be attached to their dive gear to show their support. Snorkelers visiting the Page 4 of 4 islands can show their support through the $5 purchase of a pink or blue silicone wristband. A complete list of outlets for TCRF merchandise can be found on the organization’s website.

TCRF Distributes Fee Environmentally Friendly Mosquito Control Disks

TURKS & CAICOS REEF FUND VOLUNTEERS DISTRIBUTE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY MOSQUITO CONTROL DISKS

9 March 2016, Providenciales, TCI – The Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF), the only environmental advocacy non-governmental organization in the TCI, with the help of over a dozen volunteers distributed environmentally friendly mosquito control disks to residents throughout the Turks & Caicos Islands. The disks, called “Mosquito Dunks” are used to kill mosquito larvae in standing water without causing harm to the environment. Mosquito control in the TCI is an important task to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as zika, dengue and chikungunya.

“We first want to thank all the volunteers who helped with this effort,” said Don Stark, Chairman of the TCRF. “When we learned that one of the recommended methods for killing mosquitos in standing water was to add a little kerosene or gasoline, we were appalled. Because we live on a limestone island, everything you pour on the ground eventually makes it way into the ocean and we don’t need to be pouring petroleum products into the ocean as they will do great harm to the protective coral reefs.”

The TCRF purchased 5,000 Mosquito Dunks from Summit Chemical in Maryland, USA and with the support of the Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs, imported them into the TCI. Cases of the disks were provided to volunteers on Grand Turk, Salt Cay, South Caicos, North Caicos, Middle Caicos and Provo.

“I especially want to thank the District Commissioners on the other islands for their assistance in getting the Mosquito Dunks to residents on their islands,” added Mr. Stark who lives on Provo. “It was very helpful and greatly appreciated to ensure all residents of the TCI had the opportunity to receive free environmentally friendly mosquito control disks.”

About TCRF

Founded in 2010, the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is an all volunteer-run organization that provides funding for education, research and conservation programs to individuals, organizations and agencies that help to preserve and protect the environment of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Our goal is to have at least 85% of all funds raised through voluntary contributions from divers and snorkelers visiting the Turks & Caicos Islands directed to the Fund’s programs.

Anyone wishing to donate or assist the TCRF in any way can contact them through their website, www.TCReef.org. Scuba divers visiting the islands are encouraged to make a $10 donation through the purchase of a dive tag that can be attached to their dive gear to show their support. Snorkelers visiting the islands can show their support through the $5 purchase of a pink or blue silicone wristband. A complete list of outlets for TCRF merchandise can be found on the organization’s website.

Reef Action Team Beach Clean Up

BRITISH WEST INDIES COLLEGIATE’S REEF ACTION TEAM CLEANS UP THE BEACH AND SNORKEL REEF IN FRONT OF CORAL GARDENS RESORT.

26 January 2016, Providenciales, TCI – The Reef Action Team (RATs) from British West Indies Collegiate (BWIC) spent a recent Friday afternoon picking up trash on the beach near the Coral Gardens snorkel trail. They also donned their snorkel gear and removed trash from the snorkel trail as well. Ms. Tessa Rankin, a staff member at BWIC, organized the RATs four years ago as an environmental club.

“Working with these students, many of whom have been part of the RATs for several years, is a great pleasure,” said Ms. Rankin. “They are very enthusiastic and really are interested in helping to protect the environment of the TCI.”

The RATs meet every Friday afternoon when school is in session and they have been involved in many different activities, including snorkeling in the mangroves, getting their advanced scuba dive certification, learning fish identification skills, learning how to prepare mooring lines, and many other things. The Turks & Caicos Reef Fund (TCRF) has been working with Ms. Rankin and the RATs since the group was formed four years ago.

“This is one of the many educational efforts we have been undertaking to further our mission of helping to preserve and protect the environment of the TCI,” said Don Stark, Chairman of the TCRF. “Some of these kids are going to go to college to study marine biology and hopefully they will come back to the TCI to work in areas that continue their efforts to better understand the TCI environment and to protect it. Young people are the key to protecting the health of the ocean and the reefs for the long-term.”

Over the past two years, TCRF has increased its focus on educational programs for local school children. TCRF, in conjunction with the National Museum and the Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs is in the process of developing a marine ecology curriculum for elementary school children and will also be developing one for secondary school students. Additionally, TCRF has been funding a group of researchers from Keene University in New Hampshire, USA who have been training Clement Howell High School students to snorkel and assist them with their coral monitoring efforts.

About TCRF

Founded in 2010, the Turks & Caicos Reef Fund is an all volunteer-run organization that provides funding for education, research and conservation programs to individuals, organizations and agencies that help to preserve and protect the environment of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Our goal is to have at least 85% of all funds raised through voluntary contributions from divers and snorkelers visiting the Turks & Caicos Islands directed to the Fund’s programs.

Anyone wishing to donate or assist the TCRF in any way can contact them through their website, www.TCReef.org. Scuba divers visiting the islands are encouraged to make a $10 donation through the purchase of a dive tag that can be attached to their dive gear to show their support. Snorkelers visiting the islands can show their support through the $5 purchase of a pink or blue silicone wristband. A complete list of outlets for TCRF merchandise can be found on the organization’s website.