Grant to support coral reef protection

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Posted by on March 11, 2005 at 18:04:48:

HONOLUA – Tiffany & Co. Foundation has awarded $100,000 to the Coral Reef Alliance of San Francisco to build conservation alliances and to implement coral reef preservation projects, starting at Honolua Bay, a Maui spot frequented by divers, snorkelers and surfers.

Tim Means, the retail manager at Lahaina Divers, says he attended a presentation by the alliance in Honolulu in February at the meeting of the Hawaii Recreational Scuba Industry Association, and he hopes that part of the money will be used to spread more of the alliance’s “excellent” behavior guides to visitors.

He said he offered Lahaina Divers meeting rooms for classes and organizational sessions once the alliance program gets going, expected to start in May.

“They do put out really excellent paper hard-cards on good environmental practices,” says Means. “It’s really good to expose people, who may or may not know all that much about the coral reefs, to acceptable practices.”

Lahaina Divers uses the cards with its customers, but as far as Honolua Bay is concerned, Means thinks the main impact comes from snorkelers who climb down the steep path.

“People from Kansas don’t know. They can take this card and have a pretty good idea.”

Sherry Flumerfelt, program manager for the alliance, says the alliance promotes wider public knowledge of appropriate practices in the ocean.

It likes to work with commercial marine recreation businesses because they are out on the scene every day. But the target audience is general, and the alliance is still studying how to approach the Hawaii public.

Honolua is just the starting point, she says.

Rae Seki, the director of the Tiffany stores at Wailea and Kaanapali, says that Tiffany & Co. Foundation was established in 2000 to broaden the scope of the company’s charitable giving by providing grants to nonprofit organizations dedicated to arts education and preservation and environmental conservation.

“The conservation of natural resources is an area of vital concern because it is from nature that the company draws raw materials and the inspiration that are at the heart of Tiffany,” she says.

Flumerfelt says the Coral Reef Alliance works around the world and seeks local input about what problems reefs face.

The alliance has contacted a number of Hawaii organizations already, including Maui Land & Pineapple Co., which owns land around Honolua; and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which has designated the bay a marine life conservation district.

The bay is closed to fishing or gathering, but it is used by dive and snorkel boats for tours. The north side of the bay is a prime surf site, while the white sand beach at Mokuleia on the south side, commonly known as Slaughterhouse, is a popular body surfing beach.

Means says his company takes a boat into the bay perhaps once a month in the summer, “never in the winter,” but there are other operators who visit almost every day in suitable weather.

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