How the Getch Foundation and Ray Caye is supporting ocean conversation in Belize
It’s no secret that Ray Caye and Moho Caye are committed to championing responsible tourism. Ray Caye was the first in Belize to introduce a TESLA Powerwall system, allowing the island to run entirely on clean energy, and they even have their own organic garden. In Moho Caye they have financed and supported reef restoration projects with local non-profit organization, Fragments of Hope, who have successfully replanted over 11,000 nursery grown coral fragments in the surrounding area. It is surely no surprise then, to discover that the proprietors of Ray Caye developed the Getch Foundation; a private foundation established by the owners of Ray Caye and Moho Caye that focuses on ocean conservation as well as mental health.
The Getch Foundation has transformed a deep passion for ocean conservation into action in recent years working alongside Ocean Unite; a program started in 2015 by Sir Richard Branson, and the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator; perhaps the first high-level commitment coming out of the One Planet Summit in Paris in December 2017 dedicated to helping the Caribbean become a beacon of climate-smart development. Above and beyond, the Getch Foundation has teamed up with Ocean Unite to be one of the first major backers of the 30x30 initiative for ocean conservation in the Caribbean, with an ongoing annual commitment of $1million going to the cause, and a significant percentage of that dedicated to Belize. So how does Belize fit in?
Being situated on an island in our beloved Caribbean waters, both Ray Caye and Moho Caye understand first-hand the urgency of ocean conservation. Many of our Marine Reserves and Cayes are suffering from erosion, primarily caused by climate change, that has affected wave movements in the ocean. One such reserve being threatened by these ongoing effects of climate change are the Silk Cayes, located just minutes from Ray Caye. The Silk Cayes are three tiny islands that form an integral part of the larger Gladden Spit and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve – one of our most favorite year-round diving and snorkeling spots! The reserve is protected and, outside of its enormous value to tourism (the Marine Reserve receives as many as ten thousand tourists per year), it also serves as an important site for fish spawning as well as contains designated areas for commercial fishing.
By far the most affected is South Silk Caye which has been eroding steadily for the past five years. Conservationists in the know say that over 75% of what was South Silk Caye is now eroded. Once an island, it is now just a small strip of land mass where hermit crabs and seagulls compete with visiting tourists for the best spot to enjoy the view of the surrounding seas.
For the past few years, local conservationists including Oceana and Fragments of Hope, have been working to prevent South Silk Caye from suffering the same fate as Middle Silk Cayes which is almost entirely lost to the sea. Belizean organizations PACT (Protected Areas Conservation Trust) and SEA Belize (Southern Environmental Association) have been erecting a rock wall to keep waves from washing away the Caye. Positive results have been seen, but much more work is needed before they can attempt to truly reclaim South Silk Caye. The Getch Foundation will now be investing $1million into the Silk Cayes with much of the funding being used to construct a submerged wall designed to break up incoming waves and capture sand. With the help of Mother Nature, this will allow the Caye to slowly be rebuilt over time.
We are truly committed to making a real and quantifiable difference when it comes to ocean conservation so it is with great pleasure that we are able to provide funding to Belize, a country that has proven time and again that they are dedicated to preserving their marine life. We are especially excited to be able to finance the Silk Cayes project and help save this valuable Marine Reserve – Jesse Robinson, Executive Director, Getch Foundation
Beyond being important to Belize, the ocean is one of the biggest businesses in the world. As stated by Ocean Unite, it provides half the oxygen we breathe, has absorbed a quarter of our CO2 emissions, supports the livelihoods of more than 3 billion people and puts food on our plates. South Silk Caye may just a tiny part of a much bigger problem, but the Getch Foundation understands that change begins at home – in this case, their Ray Caye home of Belize. The Silk Cayes project will begin in July with an erosion study, after which the foundation will receive clearance for the works to take place.
Ray Caye and the Getch Foundation are committed to sustaining our local environment. The Getch Foundation partnered with Ocean Unite to identify projects that can be tackled head on. Therefore, it is only right that we join forces to lead conservation efforts at The Silk Cayes which are not only an important part of the Belize ecosystem, but a hugely valuable asset to Ray Caye and its guests. – Dasha Shivers, General Manager, Ray Caye.
You can read more about the Getch Foundation on their website.