SCF to receive subsidies for refurbishment of hyperbaric chamber and mooring system

During the Saba Island Council Meeting held on October 24th, 2012, the second quarter budget amendments were approved, including a $50,000.00 subsidy for the necessary repairs of the hyperbaric facility at Fort Bay and an additional US$ 50,000.00 for the upgrade of the mooring system in the Saba Marine Park.

Example of a hyperbaric chamber

Recognizing the importance of healthy marine and terrestrial ecosystems to the island’s society and economy, for many years the Saba Island Government has supported the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) by contributing to the organization’s environmental education programs, as well as the upkeep of the historic trail and mooring systems.

The hyperbaric chamber is seen by many to be essential for Saba’s dive industry, in providing emergency treatment of scuba diving related accidents and thereby ensuring competiveness of the sector internationally. The SCF has operated the chamber, donated by the Dutch Navy, since 1991. Nonetheless, due to increased diver safety, the revenue received from hyperbaric chamber treatments and fees in the past years was not sufficient to pay for the continued management and necessary regular maintenance.

With the new funding, the SCF is going to be the responsible body to ascertain that the hyperbaric chamber will be fully refurbished and can meet the standards as set forth by the Divers Alert Network (DAN) again. For the long-term sustainability of the facility, a new committee in charge of the administration of the hyperbaric chamber will have to be established. Since it does not fall within its statutes and mission of the SCF, based on recent developments and resulting additional responsibilities, for example the management of the Saba Bank, the SCF will no longer be responsible for the hyperbaric chamber and not form part of the committee, once it is operational.

Furthermore, the success of the Saba Marine Park is founded in part by requiring vessels in the park to tie to a provided mooring, instead of anchoring on the delicate bottom substrate and thereby damaging the precious coral reefs. It is further intended to increase the popularity of Saba as a yachting destination, by providing upgraded and safe moorings for visiting vessels, in time for the upcoming high season. As a follow up to 2007, when the SCF already received assistance from the Island Government, new anchor blocks will be placed and mooring buoy materials will be acquired to allow proper maintenance of all systems for at least the next 2 years. Additionally, a new hydraulic tool will be purchased for the installation of environmentally friendly sand screw anchors wherever possible, to meet the expectations of the Saba Marine Park as a leading example for others to follow.

Press release GIS Saba, November 23, 2012