The increasing number of tourists is something that we love to see. More tourists often means more people to introduce to the underwater world. Unfortunately, it also means more waste. So we, who celebrate the increasing tourists, see it as our responsibility to be a driving force in finding a solution to the waste increase.
Sadly, tourism is merely part of the problem. Key to this issue is the way in which waste is handled. Indiscriminate dumping of trash is evident in town – a highly visible blight on our beautiful town.
Inspired by other successful projects in diving communities, such as Eco Koh Tao (headed up by Jennifer Dowling), Savedra Dive Center in Moalboal have partnered with local schools to encourage students to take action and clean up their community.
The series of events kicked off with a presentation at Basdiot Elementary School about community pride and the need to defend our environment. This was followed by a town and reef cleanup.Instructors Maribeth and Jaime shared their concerns for the community they grew up in and where they will live and raise families. It was uplifting to see students react to photos and videos from other tourist destinations that have fallen victim to similar problems.
Two of Savedra Dive Center’s latest IDC graduates and Project AWARE Dive Against Debris Instructors, Francois Burg and Mat Severance, spoke about the benefits international tourism can bring to towns like Moalboal and how waste problems can have a direct impact on this tourism.
Unfortunately, it’s common to see people throw their trash on the floor here in Moalboal. We wanted to give this action a name that kids could have some fun with and that would hopefully correct some negative behaviours. With this in mind, we look to a successful campaign in the UK – Don’t be a litterbug!
It seems to have stuck! We’ve heard it being used around town already and hopefully it continues and has the desired effect. Lots of signs like the one pictured will be posted around the school and town to remind them.
We also ran a competition so that the clean up didn’t become just a one-off but to encourage divers to act as ambassadors for our reefs.
Everyone who visits knows Moalboal is a diving town, unfortunately many of those who grew up and live here never get to experience a dive, we’re delighted to help change that. The Cleanup went far better than we could have expected, in just a few hours 13 teams spread out across town and managed to bring home over 917 Kilograms of plastics and glass, an incredible effort! Diving teams organised by Savedra Dive Center, Moalboal Local Government and BBTO managed to pull around 200 KG from the water and beaches!
Follow Savedra’s blog for more news from this and other projects.