Digicel champions 'Swim for the Sanctuary'
Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications at Digicel Elon Parkinson (centre), gets a quick lesson on the causes and consequences of coral destruction and the work being done by the White River Fish Sanctuary to restore Jamaica's coral reefs. He was guided by Felix Charnley (left), coral consultant with the White River Fish Sanctuary, and Kyle Mais (right), head of the Jamaica Inn Foundation.

IN making the link between how climate change affects communities and network resilience, Digicel is throwing its support behind the 2023 Swim for the Sanctuary eco-fund-raiser.

The collaboration, dubbed, a winning combination, will see Digicel sponsoring efforts to ensure the continued protection of the White River Fish Sanctuary — a "no-fishing" zone of over 370 acres, covering approximately three and a half miles of coastline from St Ann to St Mary.

As a nature reserve the sanctuary acts as a breeding zone for a variety of reef fish that eventually leave for deeper waters and are later caught by fisherfolk.

To promote its sustainability Digicel joined forces with organisers Jamaica Inn Foundation and several other firms focused on corporate climate action, at the launch of the third edition of the open water swim event which was held at Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday.

Speaking at the launch, head of communications and corporate relations at Digicel, Elon Parkinson emphasised the significance of Swim for the Sanctuary.

"This event enables us to closely examine our own resilience and environmental protection efforts while we help others with managing the impact of climate risks," said Parkinson.

"Climate-related weather events that are worsened by the degradation of coral reef ecosystems can have far-reaching impacts on our operations — in the same way they affect our fisherfolk and others whose livelihoods depend on the marine ecosystem.

"With this in mind, we are supporting a community-based management approach toward protecting the fish sanctuary by using the power of our vast fibre and LTE mobile networks to keep everyone involved better connected," added Parkinson.

Notably, since its establishment in 2001 Digicel has consistently supported local fisherfolk by opening access to mobile technology and ensuring that they enjoy seamless connectivity for several miles at sea.

This level of accessibility and network availability enables marine users to leverage the power of digital technology to quickly access critical data on climate change risks and events.

This eco-friendly partnership comes months after the Digicel Foundation's Good Energy, Clean Environment grant initiative was launched.

The initiative has already awarded 846 grants that are impacting more than 250,000 people across the island.

Registered community groups, youth and farm groups, educational institutions, and social enterprises are invited to apply for a share of $35 million in grants to fund their environmentally sustainable projects.

In welcoming Digicel to Swim for the Sanctuary's impressive line-up of sponsors, director of Jamaica Inn Foundation Kyle Mais said, "We have received an incredible amount of support from our sponsors and [we] join hands in the commitment to the restoration of the blue economy, and raising awareness of the protection of Jamaica's marine environment."

Swim for the Sanctuary will be held on Saturday, November 11 at White River House, Shaw Park Beach, Ocho Rios.

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