Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Launches Stewardship Effort With Dive Community

Nov. 03, 2009

Media Contact:

Karrie Carnes
305-809-4700 x236



Blue Star Program

NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary welcomed the first SCUBA dive operator into a new program that recognizes businesses that practice responsible diving and snorkeling. Amy Slate’s Amoray Dive Resort, of Key Largo, Fla., is the first charter business to receive the sanctuary’s Blue Star designation.

Blue Star was established to recognize companies that work to protect the coral reef ecosystem of the Florida Keys by promoting proper dive etiquette and educating the public about the impact human actions can have on the marine environment. Unlike some of the major causes of reef decline such as climate change, damage to reefs from diving and snorkeling is considered preventable.

Amoray Dive Resort receive Blue Star recognition

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary staff member Karrie Carnes with representatives from Amoray Dive Resort of Key Largo, Fla.

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Home to the third-largest barrier coral reef in the world, the protected waters of the Florida Keys attract millions of visitors each year and contribute an estimated $1.2 billion in annual tourist revenue. The reef's close proximity to land and an abundance of boat operators in the Keys make it easily accessible to novice snorkelers and seasoned divers.

“Through voluntary education programs like Blue Star, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Keys’ charter businesses are working to protect these fragile coral reefs for future generations,” said Sean Morton, acting superintendent of the sanctuary.

Blue Star operators are required to attend training annually on issues affecting coral reefs, sanctuary regulations and coral reef etiquette – and, in turn, educate their customers. They also must offer conservation-related dive courses and participate in activities such as fish counts and reef clean-ups.

“We are excited to welcome Amoray Dive Resort as the first recognized operator and applaud its conservation-minded business practices and commitment to coral reef education,” Morton said.

Blue Star is funded partly by Mote Marine Laboratory’s Protect Our Reef Grants Program and by the Sanctuary Friends Foundation of the Florida Keys. Visit http://www.sanctuarybluestar.org for more information on the program and for updates on recognized operators.

Established in 1990, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 square nautical miles of important marine habitat, including maritime heritage resources, as well as coral reef, hard bottom, seagrass meadows, mangrove communities and sand flats. NOAA and the state of Florida manage the sanctuary.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.