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Help Improve Our Oceans

7 Sep

Written by Megan Denny

National Geographic estimates 5.25 trillion pieces of trash end up in the ocean every year. That’s about 700 pieces of trash for every man, woman and child on the planet. And, a lot of that rubbish is plastic. The volume and types of trash in the ocean affects all marine creatures, from the smallest zooplankton to the largest whales.

As a dive professional, you’re uniquely qualified to help turn the tide toward a healthier ocean. There are many ways to make a difference including participating in year-round Project AWARE® Dive Against Debris® surveys or organizing a special event on Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day. Here are a few suggestions and examples of what other PADI® Pros are doing for International Coastal Cleanup Day this September.

Saturday, 16 September

International Coastal Cleanup Day is an ideal way to do important work for the local community and raise awareness about your business. Here are some tips for running a successful cleanup event:

  • Get the word out – Send a short press release to local news organisations (templates and tools are available on the PADI Pros’ Site).
  • Stock up – Encourage divers to get equipped with mesh collection bags, knives and gloves. Invite topside participants to bring gardening gloves, but bring extra gloves for those who forget.
  • Buddy up – Invite local environmental organizations to participate and help get the word out.
  • Create incentives – Jack’s Diving Locker in Hawai’i offers a free rental tank and half off rental gear to divers participating in their shoreline and underwater cleanup. Their 2017 event takes place on International Coastal Cleanup Day at the Kailua-Kona Pier from 9am – noon.
  • Document your activities: create a recap video or slideshow to share on social media and with local news outlets.

Take Action Year Round

You don’t need to wait for International Coastal Cleanup Day to take action. Through Dive Against Debris surveys, divers can remove debris throughout the year at any dive location across the globe. If you dive at the same site frequently, why not adopt it? Project AWARE provides a suite of survey tools and a yearly report on the state of your local dive site. Simply conduct Dive Against Debris surveys once a month and report the marine debris you find. Receive special recognition for your efforts in addition to the feel-good benefits of helping the planet and local community. Learn more at: projectaware.org/adoptadivesite.

Make Good Choices

While out of the water there are things you can do to support a clean and healthy ocean.

Say “no” to single-use plastics – Especially items like cups, straws and cutlery. Choose reusable snack bags over plastic ones, and switch to biodegradable trash bags. Plastic production has skyrocketed from 7 million tons in 1950 to almost 300 million tons today. What’s even scarier: most of that plastic is still around. By reducing plastic consumption we can reduce the plastic pollution in our ocean. Here’s a humorous video you can share online to encourage friends to avoid disposable plastics.

Donate to Project AWARE – Challenge friends, family and your student divers to do the same by creating a fundraising campaign. Get started at org/support. You can also peruse fundraising campaigns from fellow ocean-lovers at Finathon.org.

Super Divers Dive Against Debris

26 May

Photos supplied by Super Divers

On Monday 6 March 2017, PADI 5-Star Dive Center, Super Divers arranged a Project AWARE® Dive Against Debris® aboard MV Freedom Dolphin.  The day started with the leader of the project, PADI Elite Instructor Jon Walsh briefing the guests on board about the importance of keeping our oceans clear of rubbish and sharing some of the quite astonishing facts about the amount of debris that ends up in our oceans every year.

The cleanup was entirely volunteers and it was impressive to see that more than 40 volunteers took part to raise awareness and remove debris from the ocean.

The best part was that Super Divers found there was actually very little debris to be collected.

“It’s testament to the great job all those who visit dive sites around Phuket do in collecting anything that shouldn’t be in the sea,” said Walsh.

“The small amount we did recover will now be broken down by type of debris and the amount and dive site at which it was found will be registered with Project AWARE.”

As is the case too often, plastic and fishing line were the main culprits of the day – but every piece that is removed from our oceans helps.

Congratulations to the entire team at Super Divers and to all the volunteers involved.

For more information about Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris campaign, visit the website.

ReMember: Support Project AWARE with your PADI Member Renewal

25 Oct

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As a PADI® Professional you play a critical role in leading action locally to protect our ocean planet. Your support joins together with Project AWARE’s wider global dive community to make united and strong conservation actions.

This PADI Member Renewal season ReMember to support ocean protection with a donation to Project AWARE®.

Your renewed commitment gives the ocean a voice. It helps Project AWARE secure important policy advancements to keep shark and ray populations healthy and protects marine life from the onslaught of marine debris.

“There are so many significant problems facing mankind, but as divers this is truly our cause. If scuba divers do not take an active role in preserving the aquatic realm, who will?” – John Cronin, PADI Co-Founder

Project AWARE, PADI’s environmental partner, is dedicated to mobilizing PADI Pros like you with the tools and resources to take action locally. Together we can advance the health of the ocean for future generations and our industry.

Your donation supports hands-on citizen science, education and local marine conservation actions tailored for the dive community across the globe. Your donation helps Project AWARE continue its work and get results.

Go to the PADI Pros’ Site to update your credit or debit card details and add your donation* to support Project AWARE’s critical conservation work today! Or ask your Customer Service team how you can make a donation.

* Gifts of AU$25 or more received during PADI Member Renewals will receive a new limited edition Project AWARE silky shark mask strap pad as a special thank you for your renewed support.

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About Project AWARE

Project AWARE Foundation is a global movement of scuba divers protecting our ocean planet – one dive at a time. Focused on the critical issues of Sharks in Peril and Marine Debris, Project AWARE empowers thousands of divers in more than 180 countries to work together for a clean, healthy and abundant ocean planet. Project AWARE Foundation is a registered non-profit organization. www.projectaware.org

Project AWARE Divers Pledge to Protect their Underwater Playgrounds

5 May

Project AWARE Divers Pledge to Protect their Underwater Playgrounds

On Earth Day, April 22, Project AWARE® announced its latest initiative supporting the fight against marine debris: Adopt a Dive Site™. Harnessing the unique underwater skill set of the scuba diving community, Adopt a Dive Site urges scuba diving leaders around the globe – including dive instructors, dive centres and resorts – to engage in ongoing, local protection and monitoring of our underwater playgrounds.

Participants of Adopt a Dive Site commit to carry out monthly Dive Against Debris surveys, reporting types and quantities of marine debris found underwater each month from the same location.

Adopt a Dive Site sits within Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris program and empowers scuba divers to remove marine debris from the ocean and report data on the types, quantities and locations of materials collected.

Since the program’s launch in 2011, more than 25,000 divers have participated in Dive Against Debris in more than 50 countries around the world, reporting almost 600,000 pieces of trash. This incredible effort has saved the lives of many ocean species and helped make our ocean cleaner, but the unfortunate reality is that there is still much more trash in the ocean, largely unreported. The Adopt a Dive Site initiative aims to close this data gap and ignite a new wave of ocean stewardship and optimism.

Adopt a Dive Site participants’ local, repeated surveys will help improve the health of ocean ecosystems. But more importantly, they will provide valuable, much-needed information about marine debris to help inform policy change.

“By targeting specific areas with repeat surveys, we’ll be able to further bridge the gap in knowledge of quantity and types of marine debris found under our ocean waves,” says Joanne Marston, Campaign Manager, Project AWARE.

“What’s more,” adds Joanne, “based on the data we receive, we’ll actively seek solutions to some of the localised waste management problems communities’ face. It’s the beginning of an exciting wave of change as we mobilise our passionate dive community to take ownership of the sites they frequent. Together our movement is leading ocean protection from the frontlines.”

Project AWARE is thrilled to welcome its new Adopt a Dive Site leaders, dive centres and resorts and kick off a new wave of stewardship. Together, Adopt a Dive Site participants will help build a strong and vibrant community of activists dedicated to the fight against marine debris.

To learn more, visi twww.projectaware.org/adoptadivesite

Beneath the Waves with Project AWARE

14 Sep

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In preparation for the Our Ocean 2015 international conference in Chile on October 5-6, US Secretary of State John Kerry has posed the question, “What will you do to protect the ocean?

Project AWARE’s answer? Taking action against trash through Dive Against Debris. Scuba divers everywhere are taking a stand against the onslaught of marine debris. With our underwater skill set, we’re uniquely positioned to shine light on what we see beneath the waves – the negative impacts of underwater debris on ocean ecosystems and wildlife.

Share your underwater marine debris photos on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #BeneathTheWaves. Project AWARE will add them to their global “Beneath the Waves” photo collage to show decision-makers your underwater perspective and urge for long-term, global solutions to the marine debris issue.

We have just 30 days to show what lurks beneath the waves – share your photos of trash underwater today!

The Our Ocean 2015 conference aims to promote voluntary governmental and institutional commitments to care for the ocean. Over 400 political, academic and civil society figures as well as industry, philanthropy and nonprofit leaders will discuss solutions to topics such as illegal fishing, marine plastic pollution, ocean acidification and climate change.

Through Dive Against Debris, Project AWARE divers remove and report marine debris found beneath the waves. The trash you remove during Dive Against Debris makes the ocean safer for marine life, and more importantly, the information you report helps inform policy change. Our Ocean 2015 offers divers the opportunity to use grassroots action to empower global change.

New Documentary Highlights Debris Problem

4 Aug

The Voyage of the Labyrinth has just released its first episode. Made up of film makers, divers and sailors, Team Labyrinth is travelling through South East Asia to highlight some of the most pressing environmental issues facing our ocean planet.

Hannah Pragnell-Raasch, Program Specialist at Project AWARE, was lucky to get in on the action during the team’s first days of filming. The crew filmed a special report looking at the problem of marine debris off the east coast of Malaysia. Despite being in a marine park, discarded fishing nets smothering the fragile reef became an all too familiar site.

Working alongside B&J Diving Centre from Pulau Tioman, Hannah and the crew conducted a Dive Against Debris survey, removing 30 kg of rubbish underwater in just 45 minutes.

You can see the full report by viewing Episode 1: Coral Island Clean Up.

You can also run your own Dive Against Debris surveys. Visit www.projectaware.org/DiveAgainstDebris for more information.

World Oceans Day 2015: Project AWARE explains the Ugly Journey of our Trash

9 Jun

How does our trash make its way from land to sea? Project AWARE’s new animated infographic explains the ugly journey, and shines light on the dangers our litter poses to marine ecosystems and wildlife along the way. While the marine debris issue may at first appear daunting, there is hope! With our underwater skill set, the dive community is uniquely positioned to contribute to global solutions by participating in Dive Against Debris, Project AWARE’s year-round underwater debris removal and reporting program.

We all want a healthy ocean and healthy planet – join Project AWARE in the fight against marine debris – become a Debris Activist this World Oceans Day and all year long!

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Our ocean is under siege. From everyday trash like plastic bags, food wrappers and drink bottles, to larger items like car batteries, kitchen appliances and fishing nets, our debris is entering the sea at an alarming rate. Our ocean has become a dumping ground.

Marine debris is not only unsightly, it’s dangerous to sea life, hazardous to human health, and costly to our economies. Marine animals can become entangled in debris or mistake small particles of trash for food – often with fatal results. Divers, swimmers and beachgoers can be directly harmed by encounters with debris or its toxins. And, the costs of plastic debris to marine ecosystems are estimated at 13 billion dollars a year. Better information about sources and impacts is extremely important to drive changes in infrastructure and waste management policies at all levels.

Who is responsible? All of us. Together we can help prevent and clear up this mess for a clean, healthy ocean planet.