A New Wave of Ocean Protection

Support Project AWARE®’s next wave of ocean protection with your PADI® Member Renewal

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With 25 years of ocean conservation successes fueled by an incredible network of supporters, governments, businesses, NGOs and conservation partners, Project AWARE has much to celebrate with PADI Members.

To highlight this incredible milestone and join in the celebrations, PADI is launching a special limited edition Project AWARE card – The 25 Years of Partnership for Ocean Protection limited edition card is available to PADI Pros from October 2017 and will be available to student divers throughout 2018 when it launches in January.

00606_AWARE_C_CardFINAL-300x188Two Ways to Support Project AWARE’s Next Wave of Ocean Conservation

  • Choose the new 25 Years of Partnership for Ocean Protection limited edition card as your PADI Membership card
  • Donate to Project AWARE with your PADI Member Renewal today!

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!

Your support gives the ocean a voice, help secure important policy advancements to keep shark and ray populations healthy and protect marine life from the onslaught of marine debris.

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Special Offer: Limited Edition Project AWARE 25th Anniversary Mask Strap

Project AWARE’s special 25th Anniversary limited edition mask strap is now available as a special thank you gift when donating through your PADI member renewal. The gift is available to any PADI member donating $25/€15/£15 or more.

Help Improve Our Oceans

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.

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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 organizations (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. Here’s an example from Eco Dive Center in California.

This year, Eco Dive Center is working together with two fellow clubs from PCH Scuba and In2Deep Scuba for the 13th Annual Underwater Santa Monica Pier Cleanup on International Coastal Cleanup Day.

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.

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Make Good Choices

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

  • 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.

Do Your Part – Dive Against Debris®

Written by Megan Denny

For most people, ocean pollution is out of sight, out of mind, but as a dive professional you know that in many places there are significant debris problems lurking beneath the waves. That’s why Project AWARE® created Dive Against Debris® as a citizen science program that empowers you and your fellow divers to deliver critically needed data about the marine debris found in underwater habitats.

Since Dive Against Debris began in 2011:

  • More than 30,000 divers have participated
  • 900,000+ pieces of trash have been collected and reported
  • Thousands of entangled marine animals have been discovered

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The marine debris data reported by divers is essential to addressing and preventing ocean pollution. For example, last year, 26 percent of all debris items reported through Dive Against Debris was abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG). ALDFG, also known as ghost gear, refers to derelict fishing gear that continues to capture fish and other marine animals long after it’s been lost or abandoned by fishermen). Ghost gear is devastating to marine habitats, entangling and killing hundreds of species including seals, turtles, dolphins and whales.  In a 2007 survey, NOAA estimated there are 85,000+ lobster and crab ghost traps in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary alone.

Through their Partnerships Against Trash, Project AWARE is committed to developing solutions with individuals, governments, NGOs and businesses including alliances such as the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI). Just this year, GGGI initiated ghost gear prevention and recovery programs in Alaska, Maine and the United Kingdom.

The ocean we love needs all hands on deck to protect it. By encouraging your student divers and customers to Dive Against Debris, we can improve the health of ocean ecosystems and provide valuable information about underwater debris to policy makers.

Reporting Marine Debris Just Got Easier

Project AWARE’s new Dive Against Debris app for Android and iOS makes it easy to report marine debris data. With the Dive Against Debris app you can:Open Water Manual (Redesign)

  • Quickly report debris by choosing from a list of common debris items
  • Easily add a dive site location using your mobile device’s GPS
  • Copy information from a previous submission at the same dive site.
  • No data connection? No problem. The app will store your data as a draft for you to complete and submit once connectivity is restored.

The free app is available for download after August 21 from the App Store or Google Play. Download it to report marine debris data and help spread the word.

PADI and Project AWARE Celebrate 25 Years of Ocean Action

Project AWARE® turns 25 this year. It’s an incredible milestone made possible by the global dive community’s continued support for ocean protection and a partnership powered by a shared vision for a healthy ocean. As PADI® deepens its commitment to ocean health and marine animal protection through the Four Pillars of Change, Project AWARE’s 25th Anniversary is testament to what can be accomplished when people join forces and engage in meaningful conservation action.

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It was in the late 1980s when Project A.W.A.R.E. (Aquatic World Awareness Responsibility and Education) was born to harness each diver’s potential to advocate for and protect underwater environments. What began as a “project” transformed rapidly into a separate nonprofit organization – the Project AWARE Foundation, which has grown into a full-fledged movement of divers, marine activists and aquatic enthusiasts uniting to take action for ocean protection. In the early days, Project AWARE focused on working to advance environmental awareness through diver education. As the movement grew, Project AWARE shifted its focus to empowering direct community action and campaigning for ocean issues divers care about most.

“Over the past quarter of a century, Project AWARE has stayed at the forefront of emerging ocean issues, amplified divers’ voices on the international stage and brought together a worldwide community tackling some of the most pressing ocean challenges,” says Dr. Drew Richardson, PADI President and CEO and Chairman of the Project AWARE Foundation Board. “From its grassroots inception, Project AWARE has grown into a movement with strong initiatives that have a positive impact on the future of our ocean planet.”

With 25 years of ocean conservation successes fueled by an incredible network of supporters, governments, businesses, NGOs and conservation partners, Project AWARE has much to celebrate with PADI Members. You’ve helped secure historic protections for vulnerable shark and ray species. You’ve contributed to developing the world’s first and only marine debris database with more than 800,000 pieces of debris removed and reported from underwater environments. Using Project AWARE’s unique tools and resources, you’ve taught and continue to teach ocean protection to scuba divers, children, families and friends in local communities around the world, inspiring stewards for the ocean.

The past 25 years have created a strong foundation for Project AWARE to build its next wave of ocean protection. Now more than ever, Project AWARE is positioned to lead the charge by empowering the global dive community to be agents of positive change for the ocean, and engage ocean enthusiasts in meaningful conservation actions that the ocean desperately needs. Join the movement and protect our ocean planet – one dive at a timeSM.

Be Best. Be PADI – The Way the World Learns to Dive®

 

Embracing Initiatives to Support Our Oceans 

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PADI® has a longstanding history of conservation and is building on that by joining forces to further support two of our Four Pillars of Change: Ocean Health and Marine Animal Protection. While continuing to support Project AWARE® in its efforts to reduce marine debris and protect endangered sharks and rays, there are new initiatives with the United Nations (UN) Development Programme and Mission Blue™.

Healthy Ocean, Healthy Planet

Alignment with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water, allows the PADI family to increase efforts to conserve and sustainably use marine resources. By joining the #SaveOurOcean dialog initiated by the UN Development Programme, you and your divers can engage in conversations to increase awareness about the importance of ocean health and its effect on the bigger sustainability agenda to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.

Mission Blue™. – a Dr. Sylvia Earle alliance – focuses on growing the number of protected marine areas. Sharing stories of Hope Spots – a term for special places critical to ocean health, dubbed by Dr. Earle and Mission Blue – help identify areas that are precursors for marine protected areas. Nominating Hope Spots provides an opportunity for the PADI family and the dive industry to help reach the goal set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress to protect 30 percent of our world’s oceans by 2030.

One Dive at a Time

Project AWARE continues its vital work to protect our ocean planet. From collective action in local communities to large-scale change at the policy level, Project AWARE partners with you and your divers to reduce the amount of marine debris entering our ocean and protecting the world’s most threatened species of sharks and rays. Diver support is imperative for the oceans’ future and you can encourage everyone to dive into action and show their support through direct donations to Project AWARE, as well as in grassroots efforts including Dive Against Debris® and Adopt a Dive Site. Check out Project AWARE’s 10 Tips for Divers Action Kit for tools you can use to inspire action.

Lend your support for global efforts to improve the future of the oceans under the structure of our Four Pillars of Change. By taking action to reduce marine debris, establish more marine protected areas and protect marine animals, together we can increase biodiversity and work toward sustainable management of the oceans and their resources. PADI Pros and divers drive change every day and have stories to share to inspire others to do the same. If you have a story you want to share, email fourpillarsofchange@padi.com.

Be Best. Be PADI – The Way the World Learns to Dive®

 

Protect Sharks and Rays with Your Dive Business

Project AWARE®, WWF and The Manta Trust are pleased to release Responsible Shark and Ray Tourism: A Guide to Best Practice, the world’s first-ever guidelines for shark and ray tourism operators. The Guide aims to provide practical, science-based guidance to help tourism operators, NGOs and local communities develop and maintain well managed tourism operations that help conserve shark and ray species, raise awareness for their protection, and benefit local communities.

Unsustainable exploitation of sharks and rays – mainly driven by overfishing – is widespread with one in four shark and ray species now threatened with an increased risk of extinction.

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Yet across the globe, shark and ray tourism is increasing in popularity. Currently, around 400 well-established tourism operations focus on interacting with species of sharks and rays, and it’s estimated that this number could more than double over the next twenty years, generating over $780 million USD in expenditures around the world.

Dr Andy Cornish, WWF says, “Shark and ray focused ecotourism has great potential as a conservation strategy. If properly designed and managed, it can provide alternative direct and indirect economic benefits to local communities and economies. Yet sadly there’s limited practical guidance out there.”

Industry, researchers, authorities and the nonprofit community largely agree that best-practice guidance is urgently needed to ensure that tourism sites are established and operated in a manner that benefits sharks and rays, and local communities, while also inspiring awe, respect and a greater appreciation of the need to conserve these animals.

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Isabel Ender, Manta Trust, adds, “Lack of best practice guidance can often leave operators confused about how to assess the impact and improve the sustainability of their operation. We sought advice from scientists and the industry to help bridge that gap and deliver a best practice guide – the first of its kind in the world.”

To support operators seeking to commit to best practice, a full suite of free, downloadable tools is available on all of the organizations’ websites.

Proeject Aware Sharks and Ray conservation

For further information or to download any of the tools visit Project AWARE, WWF and The Manta Trust websites.

Victory for Sharks & Rays at CITES CoP

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After 13 Species Listed in Plenary, NGOs look to implementation, remaining threats

Conservationists are delighted that CITES* Parties have officially listed devil rays, thresher sharks, and the silky shark under CITES Appendix II. The listing proposals were supported by more than the two-thirds majority required for adoption in Committee on Monday, and finalized today in Plenary.

“This is a big win for all these species of sharks and rays as governments around the world will now have to act to ensure that trade is from sustainable and legal fisheries,” said Andy Cornish of the WWF.

Nine devil rays, the three thresher sharks, and the silky shark were proposed by countries all over the globe for listing under CITES Appendix II, which obligates Parties to put in place international trade restrictions to ensure exports are sustainable and legal.

“We are elated by the resounding support for safeguarding the devil rays, some of the oceans’ most vulnerable animals,” said Sonja Fordham of Shark Advocates International.  Devil rays have just one pup every two or three years, leaving them exceptionally susceptible to overfishing.

Ali Hood of the Shark Trust noted, “While we’re pleased by this important decision to regulate trade in silky sharks, we stress that complementary fishing limits and measures to reduce incidental catch are key to the effective conservation of this species.”

“We are grateful that governments recognize the value of healthy thresher shark populations for both fisheries and tourism,” said Ania Budziak of Project AWARE.

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CITES Parties now have six months to implement the new international trade obligations for devil rays, and one year to do the same for silky and thresher sharks.

“We urge governments to put in place these vital international trade controls, as a matter of priority,” added Amie Brautigam of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Earlier in the meeting, Parties agreed steps aimed at improving the traceability of shark and ray products, which is fundamental to CITES implementation. Countries’ interventions reflected a growing recognition of the vital role CITES can play in shark and ray conservation by enhancing data, improving management, and ensuring sustainable international trade.

Project AWARE, Shark Advocates International, Shark Trust, TRAFFIC, Wildlife Conservation Society, and WWF are working in partnership to promote the ray and shark listing proposals, with support from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.

Media contact: Brittney Francis: +44 07508 979958 (UK) brittney@communicationsinc.co.uk

For species factsheets see: http://www.projectaware.org/publication/cites-cop17-fact-sheets