The Saint Lucia Dive Association, or Anbaglo (Creole for “underwater”), is the representative body of professional and recreational divers, dive operators, hotel dive centres, and any other organisation with an interest in maritime affairs in Saint Lucia. The Association is committed to the protection and promotion of the wonderful and diverse marine life that Saint Lucia has to offer.
For more than 30 years, the Association has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the opportunities presented by the island’s underwater life, as well as the threats that it faces, including the arrival of invasive species such as lionfish, and the widespread coral bleaching seen throughout the region.
The St. Lucia Divers’ Association came into being in 1991 and was legally registered as a not for profit organisation, with Mr. Michael Allard serving as the first president of the organisation.
Mr. Allard recalled a visit from the then head of the Marine Police Unit of St. Lucia, who was also a scuba diver in the British Navy, Mr. Mike Chritchley.
Mr. Chritchley introduced himself and enquired whether the island had a divers’ association. Mr. Allard recognised the value of such an organisation as the liaison between divers and the government, offering representation as necessary.
At the time, Scuba St. Lucia was the leading dive shop on island, participating at the major dive shows, making them very visible.
Mr. Allard, then manager of Scuba St. Lucia, led the first meeting of interested dive operators and enthusiasts at Marigot Bay. The meeting discussed what was necessary to make the organisation legal, setting up a bank account and coming up with a name for the organisation.
It was then that the first President of the association was elected, Bank of St. Lucia chosen as the preferred bank, and St. Lucia Divers’ Association – Anbaglo established as the official name.
Mr. Allard went on to serve for at least six years before handing over the baton to Mr. Donovan Brown who at that time represented the Sandals chain. Over the years, the organisation has also been led by Thomas De Norbegra, Rosemond Clery, Anthony Leonce, Andre St. Omer, Bernd Rac, and the lone female President, Eget Martyr.
A major accomplishment of the St. Lucia Divers’ Association was the development of the St. Lucia Marine Management Association, established in 1994 in conjunction with Mr. Yves Renard, a consultant with Canari, Mr. Mangroo, who represented the fisherman, Mr. Ian Cowan representing the yachting sector and Sara George from the Department of Fisheries.
Representatives from the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) personally congratulated the Association for being the first stakeholder organisation in the world to establish a marine park for an island, and pledged to make the SMMA a model to be emulated by other island and countries in the region!