PADI Staff Complete a Dive Against Debris Event in Koh Tao, Thailand

Written by PADI Territory Director, Tim Hunt.

Project AWARE - Dive Against Debris - PADI Staff - Drew Richardson - Koh Tao - Thailand

By now you have heard about PADI’s Four Pillars of Change, one of which includes Ocean Health. On March 27th words and ethos were put into action in Koh TaoThailand where multiple PADI dive operators joined forces to conduct a Project AWARE Dive Against Debris event on their Adopted Dive Sites. This call to action is not an irregular experience in Koh Tao but this time PADI President & CEO Drew Richardson, PADI Chief Marketing Officer Kristin Valette-Wirth, PADI Vice President Danny Dwyer, PADI Territory Director Tim Hunt, PADI Regional Manager Neil Richards and PADI Regional Training Consultant Guy Corsellis, got to experience it firsthand. 

Project AWARE - Dive Against Debris - PADI Staff - Drew Richardson - Koh Tao - Thailand

Through combined efforts, almost 100 kg/220 lb of debris was removed from the ocean floor and reported back to Project AWARE. This adds to the current tally of more than 6,000 kg/13,227 lb and 40,000 items of rubbish removed from the surrounding waters of Koh Tao since the program started in 2011. Even though the island promotes some outstanding environmentally minded campaigns such as ‘no plastic bags at 7-11’ and ‘say no plastic straws’, unfortunately the item that was most reported in the in the past 300+ Dives Against Debris Surveys from Koh Tao was plastic bottles.

PADI President & CEO Drew Richardson said “The PADI Operators and Divers on Koh Tao are exemplary in making a difference in the face of the numerous threats to our seas.  Globe-wide problems can seem overwhelming, but these divers showed that we can and do make a difference on a local level. They banded together as citizen scientists to adopt and steward the waters surrounding Koh Tao, inspiring divers and future dive leaders to care and take action. The power of one becomes a force multiplier when millions of divers across the planet are inspired to make a difference in this way. It was an honor to participate in Dive against Debris with the Koh Tao diving community and inspiring to see the young divers and instructors express true and profound care and take action for the ocean on that day.”  

Project AWARE - Dive Against Debris - PADI Staff - Drew Richardson - Koh Tao - Thailand

Some interesting facts from Project AWARE:

  • Globally more than 1 million items of debris have been removed from the ocean and reported.
  • Almost 50,000 scuba divers have participated in Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program.
  • Sadly over 5,500 entangled or dead animals were reported.
  • 64% of waste reported has been plastic.
  • 25% of data collected in Koh Tao has come from Adopted Dive Sites – have you adopted yours?

As part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Project AWARE has pledged that they will have removed and report the next million items of marine debris from the ocean by 2020 #NextMillion2020. Scuba divers will inherently pick up marine debris they see (as it comes instinctively to most) however recording and reporting each collection is vital to change policies locally, nationally and globally. So in the future please make every dive, a survey dive!

Thanks again to all the dedicated PADI Dive Shops for hosting this event including; Master DiversAssava Dive ResortSairee Cottage DivingDavy Jones LockerBuddha View Dive ResortBans Diving Resort and Crystal Dive!

6 Top Tips to Help Dive Operators Reduce Marine Litter

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Guest Post Written By: Melissa Hobson, The Reef-World Foundation

It’s no secret that plastic pollution and marine debris is a huge problem threatening the health of our oceans. That’s why PADI is involved in an industry-wide initiative called Mission 2020, which aims to inspire dive-related businesses and charities to commit to reducing their plastic use.

PADI has pledged to lessen its dependency on packaging to minimise the plastic footprint of hundreds of thousands of divers each year. But what can you do as a dive operator to reduce plastic pollution and marine litter?

Here are a few top tips from the team at The Reef-World Foundation(international co-ordinators of Green Fins) to help you play your part in preserving the oceans you enjoy diving in and for future generations:

1. Organise Underwater Clean-ups
Marine litter is a huge problem but dive operators can lessen its impact not only by refusing single-use items, reducing waste and recycling but also by conducting Dive Against Debris® surveys or even organising underwater clean-up events.

It’s important to avoid damaging the environment in the process of removing any marine debris so make sure your divers maintain good buoyancy, watch their fins, make sure they don’t have any gauges trailing that might touch or damage the reef and don’t touch anything that isn’t trash. Have them work slowly and carefully as a buddy team with one person holding the trash bag and the other wearing gloves and collecting the trash. Divers will need to adjust their buoyancy throughout the dive – remember, as they pick up more rubbish, they are going to get heavier! It’s also a good idea to record data about the trash you collect (Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris App). You can find a handy guide to organising underwater clean-ups here.

2. Ditch the Masking TapeUsing masking tape to indicate a full tank is a common practice in many dive schools. But have you ever thought about what happens to that tape once it’s been torn off the tank neck? Tape can easily become marine debris by blowing into the ocean. Why not make permanent, reusable caps for your scuba tanks? It’s really simple – all you need is some plastic hosing and good quality rope.

3. Think About LunchesWe all know diving makes you hungry – and there’s nothing like providing some tasty snacks for your guest’s surface interval. But have you ever considered how your quick bite might affect the ocean? Plastic-wrapped sweeties and refreshments served in disposable containers all add to the plastic problem. But it needn’t be that way – clients will appreciate your efforts to preserve the marine environment by serving fresh fruit, coconut pieces and snacks in reusable lunch boxes!

4. Bin It!
As well as reducing your waste, it’s important to make sure any trash that’s created during diving trips is disposed of responsibly. Make sure your dive shops and boats have adequate ashtrays and appropriately sized bins (with lids – the bin is no use if the trash is still swept into the ocean by the wind!) and, wherever possible, separate and recycle your rubbish.

5. Adopt the Green Fins Code of Conduct or Become a MemberGreen Fins is a global initiative, coordinated internationally by The Reef-World Foundation in partnership with the UN Environment, which protects coral reefs by ensuring environmentally friendly diving and snorkelling practices.

Dive and snorkel centres operating in active Green Fins locations can apply for membership by signing the membership form and pledging to follow the 15 environmental practices of the Green Fins Code of Conduct. Active members will then be trained, assessed and certified annually and provided with all the resources they need to reduce their environmental impact. If Green Fins is not available in your area, adopt the Code of Conduct voluntarily.

Individual dive guides can also become Green Fins certified by completing the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course – whether or not their dive shop is a member.

Divers themselves can choose to book with Green Fins members as well as donating to support the development and implementation of Green Fins’ work to make coral reefs more resilient when faced with greater threats such as climate change.

Mission 2020 Logo

6. Make a Mission 2020 Pledge
Changing your business practices to reduce plastics is not just good for the ocean; divers care about the ocean and look for businesses who are making strides to protect marine life. So, better environmental practices will lead to increased customer loyalty, higher rates of return customers and great online reviews (which, in turn, attract more business). If you run a diver operator and are inspired to help improve the health of our oceans by reducing your plastic consumption, make a pledge to support Mission 2020.

Dive Community Comes Together for Coral Restoration Workshop

Situated near Bali in Indonesia are a group of islands growing in popularity. Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida are just a short boat ride away from Bali and are fast becoming known as an amazing diving destination.

With growing popularity however, there also comes an impact on the environment. To combat this impact members of this dive community are extremely proactive in ocean conservation. Regular environmental events, clean ups, Dive Against Debris, seminars and education based dive training are a regular occurrence. Most businesses have initiated waste management programs and are actively aiming to reduce diver impacts through environmental briefings for guests.

Workshop Group Photo

Recently Andrew Taylor, biologist and certified restoration practitioner from Blue Corner Marine Research invited this dive community to get together in an effort to begin coral restoration in an important area used regularly by divers.

Andrew initiated a pilot project to determine the restoration method best suited to the specific environmental conditions in the area. He then recommended the best restoration method for the chosen site on Nusa Penida, which was to conduct a two step physical and biological restoration effort.

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Divers installing the frames

First the team physically stabilized the rubble substrate using modular reef structures or coral frames. By installing these structures a framework is provided to minimize erosion and create patch reefs. Suitable hard coral species are then transplanted upon the structures to establish patch reefs which in time, will expand across the rubble area.

Andrew explains the workshop below:

“The workshop ran as an intensive 2 day event for professional local divers of the Nusa Islands in Bali. The first day involved classroom training on coral reef ecology and restoration techniques, followed by an afternoon of working dives. On the second day structures and coral transplants were inspected and documented for what will be an ongoing monitoring project. The workshop was offered free of charge to the local community in an effort to get all the dive instructors, divemasters and dive centres involved in protecting and restoring the reef. During the workshop 50 coral frames were installed at the restoration site! Funding for reef structures and operational logistics of the workshop were made possible with diver donations, assistance from several dive shops on the Nusa Islands, fundraising events at Blue Corner Bar, and generous donations from community partners”.

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This restoration effort is the start of what will be an ongoing restoration program in the Nusa Islands.  The event was attended and supported by 25 Dive Professionals and volunteers from 6 PADI Dive Centres and Resorts. Additionally, the event was supported by the Marine Megafauna Foundation, Coral Triangle Center, Lembongan Marine Association, Komunitas Penyelam Lembongan and the Ministry of Marine Affairs, Bali Province (DKP).

Logistics were arranged through Blue Corner Dive and the project had the backing of PADI & Project AWARE.

PADI Regional Managers get to experience some great conservation initiatives all around their region. If you are undertaking conservation initiatives through your PADI Dive Shop, contact your PADI Regional Manager to discuss ideas, implementation and support.

PADI’s Mission 2020 Pledge: Join Us!

PADI Mission - Mission 2020

PADI’s long-standing commitment to ocean conservation began more than 25 years ago with the formation of Project AWARE® Foundation. In 2017, the PADI Pillars of Change were introduced to increase awareness of issues affecting our ocean communities, and to mobilize PADI Professionals and divers to act together as a catalyst for positive change. Now, the PADI organization is integrating the Mission 2020 effort to reduce plastics in the ocean into its overall commitment to ocean health and corporate citizenship ethos.

Aligning with PADI’s belief that greater change can be affected when working together, Mission 2020 is a collection of pledges from organizations within the diving community to change business practices to protect and preserve the ocean for the future. With a primary focus on single-use plastics, the project sets ambitious targets of changes to be made before World Oceans Day 2020.

PADI’s Mission 2020 Pledge

As PADI moves towards a fully integrated and digital learning system, we will lessen our dependency on plastics and packaging, thereby mitigating the plastic footprint of PADI Professionals and the million divers certified each year. To broaden our impact even further, PADI is committed to rallying our 6,600 Dive Centers and Resorts to reduce their use of single-use plastics by the year 2020. We invite everyone to make a pledge and to change their business practices in support of a clean and healthy ocean.

“We are passionate about creating a preferred view of the future in healthier oceans. We have a strong legacy of environmental conservation behind us and a robust roadmap for continued progress that will drive our force for good responsibility well into the future. This is the foundation of PADI’s Mission 2020 pledge, and it is our hope that this project will inspire the PADI community to make immediate commitments that will lead to lasting change.’ – Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide

Why You Should Make a 2020 Commitment

It’s good for the planet – Changing your business practices to reduce plastics is good for the ocean and good for us too. Let’s protect the places we love to dive and make sure they are healthy for future generations.

It will enhance your business – Consumers are proud to attach themselves to a business with purpose. Show your customers that you care about the ocean and they will reward you with their loyalty.

It’s good for the dive industry – If we come together as an industry to protect our ocean planet, we set a good example for other businesses to follow. If a clean, healthy ocean is our goal, we need all the help we can get.

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PADI’s Mission 2020 pledge to reduce plastic with help restore ocean health. Join us in protecting the underwater world we love.

Impactful Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use

  •  Prevent debris from getting into the ocean! Remove single use plastics like water bottles, plastic bags and plastic cups from your shop and dive boats.
  • Work with your local community to organize joint beach and underwater clean-up events. This effort brings awareness to everyone about how individual behaviors positively impact our environment.
  • Set monthly and yearly clean up goals for your local dive sites. Log the debris on the Project AWARE Dive Against Debris® App to contribute to data collection that could influence new ocean-friendly policies.
  • Protect your local waters and Adopt a Dive Site™. It’s the ideal way to engage in ongoing, local protection and monitoring of our underwater playgrounds.
  • Carry sustainably made merchandise in your dive center or resort. Make sure tee shirts, hoodies and other branded goods come from eco-friendly suppliers and are made from non-plastic materials or from recycled plastic fibers.
  • Make the switch to PADI eLearning® and improve your carbon footprint. Going digital reduces production of plastic materials and removes the need for shipping.

Make a Mission 2020 Pledge

All members of the dive community are encouraged to make a Mission 2020 pledge. And what a great time to align your pledge with your 2019 New Year’s resolutions! Whether sustainability is already a key component of your business model or you’re just getting started, we encourage you to join in by making adjustments (big and small) to your business practices in support of a clean and healthy ocean. See what others in the industry have pledged on Mission 2020’s Who’s In page.

We believe that the global PADI family is a force for good that can help play a critical role in protecting and preserving our oceans for the future if we all make conservation a priority at our places of business.

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