BY DENISE MAYCOCK Tribune Freeport Reporter dmaycock@tribunemedia.net FREEPORT: The Underwater Explorers Society (UNEXSO) has re-moored some 24 active dive sites at Freeport's south side. UNEXSO has been financing the mooring systems on Grand Bahama for the past 20 years, spending between $8,000 to $12,000 annually to keep moorings up to date. This year, the effort is being partially funded by a grant from PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) Project AWARE. Project AWARE is a non-profit, worldwide organization dedicated to "conserving underwater environments through education, advocacy and action". The foundation was established in 1995 in response to growing concerns by some scuba divers about potential harm inflicted on coral reefs by recreational and commercial water activities. In an effort to preserve the sensitive aquatic environment, UNEXSO has spearheaded a campaign to execute moorings around Grand Bahama. Since September 2011, the UNEXSO Dive Team has re-moored 24 of the 25 active dive sites on Freeport's south side. These mooring systems consist of spliced polypropylene and/or dacron line attached to an inflatable mooring ball, which is subsequently secured to a mooring anchor eye on the sea floor or wreck site. The mooring systems eliminate the use of anchors that can destroy or damage delicate underwater terrain. Niall Christoffersen, UNEXSO Dive manager, said other dive operators and boaters benefit from the mooring systems which are provided to all free of charge. The UNEXSO team is concerned about residents who are intentionally removing the moorings or running them over while on the sea. "We are the only dive operator here doing the work," said said Christoffersen. "We are asking all dive companies and residents to be aware of these moorings, to use them correctly, and to leave them for others to enjoy." Mr Christoffersen said persons should contact UNEXSO Dive Center at 373-1244 if they encounter a damaged mooring. He said that callers should supply the coordinates to UNEXSO. Mr Christoffersen also noted that any parts of a mooring that is found should be returned to UNEXSO (all mooring balls are marked), so that they can be quickly replaced. "The Dive Team and the staff at UNEXSO are dedicated and unified in their effort to provide a sustainable underwater environment in Grand Bahama and feel that together everyone will benefit from these moorings," he said.


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