Loggerhead Marinelife Center dives into conservation at annual DEMA conference in search of dive shops to host underwater cleanups

Juno Beach, Florida – Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) announces its search for dive shops to participate in the Responsible Pier Initiative (RPI) and host underwater cleanups. A first-of-its-kind, RPI was developed as a collaborative program to work directly with recreational anglers on fishing piers. 

LMC holds quarterly underwater beach cleanups at the Juno Beach Pier. Photo by Jeff Biege Photography.

Through the program, LMC provides pier first-responders with the necessary training and resources to respond effectively to sea turtle injuries or strandings around fishing piers. Affiliated RPI piers participate in sustainable angling practices, including monofilament recycling, cigarette recycling, shorebird and seabird protection, manatee protection, and sea turtle conservation. LMC’s RPI program focuses on four primary components of conservation and preservation, including: 

  • Educational workshops conducted for fishing pier first-responders.
  • Educational signage and rescue nets installed on participating fishing piers. 
  • Pollution prevention measures implemented on participating fishing piers. 
  • Underwater cleaning beneath fishing piers and surrounding areas when possible. 

As part of LMC’s focus on pollution prevention, RPI piers are encouraged to participate in marine debris removal efforts above and below the water. However,  most RPI piers do not have the means or resources to conduct one-hour underwater cleanups. Currently, the Juno Beach Pier, in partnership with Jupiter Dive Center, is one of the few RPI piers to conduct quarterly underwater cleanups, where  divers spend time untangling monofilament fishing lines from pier pillars, collecting lures and weights, and removing other debris that pose a threat to marine life. During the Juno Beach Pier’s first underwater cleanup in 2011, divers removed 332 pounds of marine debris. Since its inception, the RPI program has helped to properly dispose of over 18,340 pounds of marine debris. 

LMC’s volunteer divers collecting marine debris from under the Juno Beach Pier. Photo by Jeff Biege Photography.

Loggerhead Marinelife Center is looking to partner with local dive shops, in close proximity to our RPI Partner Piers and throughout the state of Florida, to help establish regular underwater cleanups. Currently, many locations may not have the tools or proper training to conduct them. 

“Underwater cleanups are the only way to remove accumulated fishing gear under piers, and to reduce the risk of the debris being entangling or ingested by marine life,” said Conservation Coordinator, Katie O’Hara. “Unfortunately, it’s no longer a question if a marine animal has ingested pollution, it’s now a question of how much marine creatures have ingested.”

Marine debris collected during LMC’s above and underwater beach cleanups.

Dive shops located in close proximity to RPI piers have the unique opportunity to help further the piers conservation impact and to create a safer marine environment for all life. LMC welcomes additional dive shops and piers to sign up to participate in underwater cleanups and the Responsible Pier Initiative (RPI) to continue to make a difference in sustainability and conservation. 

Dive shops or piers interested in becoming a partner should contact Katie O’Hara at kohara@marinelife.org.