With AWARE Week fast approaching and PADI’s new mission to create a billion Torchbearers in full force, there are countless ways to celebrate and protect the ocean. Here are five top conservation tips from some of our PADI dive shops from around the globe!
1. Protect Your Ocean
Not only is it the right thing to do, it is excellent business. The dive sites and surrounding ocean areas where you operate are your principal asset.
2. Think Globally, Act Locally
Involve and empower your local community.
3. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
If offers are already doing what you want to achieve, consider joining and/or promoting their efforts instead of duplicating them, and the financial overhead that comes with it.
4. Be a Beast but Lean Out
Stay at the top of your game, but keep your bankroll in check. Always analyse the bang for your buck, not only in actual money but time and energy invested.
5. Collect the Data
When it comes to the effects of over fishing, pollution, global warming etc., you are in the prime position to communicate with these impacts in real time. Collect the data yourself or by deploying volunteers for a citizen science project, or submit regular data to one of the established databases like Dive Against Debris app.
Ceningan Divers, Indonesia
1. Take Action, Any Kind of Action
Even the smallest change you make in your business towards a sustainable and environmentally friendly operation can have a huge effect. This small step puts you onto the path and you can build on each further step you make.
2. Partner With Local Citizen Science Projects
As dive operators, you are in a unique position to help as you enter the water on a daily basis. You can actively see the effects we have on our oceans and every dive you do can help gather data for local and global organisations. This data can then be used to measure the effects of human interactions with the ocean and help with petitions and lobbying government officials in each area to improve regulations to help protect the environment.
3. Reduce, Reuse & Recycle
Try and reduce single-use plastics wherever possible in your operation. For instance, ban the use of plastic water bottles on your boat and sell re-usable metal ones. This not only reduces your plastic usage, but can also help with merchandising and branding of your business as you can put your logo on them. For any plastics or rubbish you can’t get rid of, look for local recycling companies that can take and dispose of it correctly. If there aren’t any options available in your area, band with other operators and locals to find a solution. Perhaps by creating an option together, you can not only start recycling but also create job opportunities for locals.
4. Become Green Fins Certified
Green Fins is an approach to sustainable marine tourism activities that work with business operators, communities and governments. It helps to implement environmental standards for the diving and snorkelling industry through a code of conduct. The overall aim of the initiative is to mitigate damaging impacts to the marine environment from the marine tourism sector and improve sustainability. The code of conduct is a set of 15 points designed to tackle the most common and detrimental effects of scuba diving and snorkelling activities on the habitat in which they operate. By adhering to this code of conduct in all your dives, you will limit your impact on the environment while also helping educate new students and guests.
5. Become a Project AWARE Partner & Adopt a Dive Site
Get active in your local area and help clean up your reefs wherever possible. By joining Project AWARE you will get a global infrastructure of environmental best practices from dive operations all over the world. Some practices may not work in your area but there may be many others you had not thought of that will work.
Fifth Point Diving, United Kingdom
- Take Responsibility
Don’t assume that someone else will sort out the messy problem of marine debris. You’re diving here, you’re a guest in this underwater world, you must do your part to protect it. Adopt the sites you visit regularly so you’re making a formal commitment to looking after the places you love.
2. Get Your Divers Involved
Get your students and fun divers enthused about ocean protection. It will make them feel good and you will become known as a dive centre who is environmentally conscious. Organise regular clean up activities above and below the waves, as well as Dive Against Debris, Project AWARE, Coral Reef Conservation and AWARE Shark Conservation courses.
3. Lead By Example
All eyes are on you as a dive centre owner and/or instructor. You’re in a very privileged position to be able to inspire your divers to dive in a certain way. In many cases, especially with new divers, it’s ‘monkey see, monkey do’. Show off your buoyancy skills. never collect marine life or wreck artefacts and expect the same high standards from those you take underwater.
4. Evaluate Your Business
Wherever possible we should try and reduce our emissions and consumption in our businesses. Carry our an evaluation of your business to see where you can make improvements in your carbon footprint, energy consumption, and waste. You could even take it one step further and apply to become a PADI Green Star Centre.
5. Become a 100% AWARE Partner
Not only will your students be able to pick up their limited edition Project AWARE design for their e-cards, they’ll also be donating to a cause that will look after the place they love for generations to come.
Sea Experience, Florida
1. Switch From Plastic Water Bottles to Filtered Water
In addition to being much better for the environment, it is likely to be more cost effective for the business. We have a 5 gallon cooler on the boat that we can clean daily and fill with filtered water and food grade ice. Filters last 2-3 months and are not expensive.
2. Offer Store-Branded Reusable Water Bottles
Take the filtered water a step further and offer store-branded reusable water bottles. We offer them at slightly above our cost to show customers that we truly care. Also, it gives the store staff an opportunity to engage with customers about being reef-conscious when they talk about filtered water.
3. Switch to Reef -Safe or Reef-Conscious Brands
They will likely cost more than products that are not reef-friendly, but we have found that our customers recognise and understand the difference and are willing to pay the extra amount.
4. Use Mooring Balls
Use mooring balls whenever possible to reduce the impact on the reef. On sites you visit regularly, it’s possible to make your own mooring with a 5-gallon bucket, weights, concrete or cement and a large eyelet.
5. Brief Every Dive Site and Certification Dive Passionately
By getting both certified divers and new students excited about the site, they are more likely to take ownership and are less likely to take harmful actions. If it’s just another wreck, they will have no compunction about touching the deck and railings. If they believe that it’s something special, they will avoid contact because it was the wreck that they dove and it had a history and meaning. Incorporate tips to maintaining healthy oceans into all student course briefings so you can continue to develop torchbearers in every class.
VIP Diving, Bonaire
1. Green Energy
Many dive centres are located in a tropical environment and the majority of energy is used during the day. Solar panels are a perfect fit for this scenario. Almost 100% of the electricity we use during the day comes from our solar panels.
2. Reusable Water Bottles
To reduce the use of single use plastic, we give all our guests a free reusable water bottle when they arrive. Safe, clean and tasty cold tap water is available at all times to refill.
3. Sun Protection
Wear protective clothing, like rash guards and hats at all times when in the sun. Ecosystems can be harmed significantly by the chemicals in common sunscreens. During your stay our oxybenzone and paraben-free sunscreen is free to use.
4. Recycling and Waste Separation
We ask guests to take home batteries for proper disposal. Wastewater from our rinse tanks is used to water our plants. We have recycling bins for paper, glass, plastic and – nicely crushed – cans.
5. Support Sustainability Programs and Local Initiatives
Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire protects the turtle species of Bonaire. They take care of nesting beaches, sea grass, do researchers, cleanups and provide education. VIP Diving adopts a sea turtle nest every year. We support the training of the STINAPA Junior rangers who learn about dive ethics and protecting Bonaire’s valuable resources. We also make a donation to Project AWARE on behalf of every student while being a 100% AWARE Partner.
Learn how you can make a difference and get involved in AWARE Week 2020.
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