|What is Project AWARE?
Sunday, 23 June 2013
Most divers out there are familiar with PADI the world's largest recreational diving membership and diver training organization, but Project AWARE was founded by PADI to help conserve underwater environments. Project AWARE Foundation is a growing movement of scuba divers protecting the ocean planet – one dive at a time. Their main focus is on two major ocean issues –Sharks in Peril and Marine Debris.
As Earth’s growing population consumes more disposable goods, the items we discard, even thousands of miles inland, are choking our ocean planet. From the smallest bits of plastic to enormous fishing nets, rubbish makes its way to the ocean by the ton every day. Marine debris kills wildlife, destroys habitats, and threatens our health and economy, but the good news is marine debris is preventable. Coordinated strategies are needed at local, national, regional and international levels to prevent, reduce and manage solid waste. Dive Against Debris is a program that begins with divers or other volunteers removing rubbish from the water environment and recording the data that describes the underwater perspective to the problem. Project AWARE states “The Dive Against Debris data you collect and report will inform, persuade and empower policy makers and other stakeholders to establish and improve integrated solid waste management practices. Practices where we reduce, reuse, and recycle our way to an ocean free of marine debris.”
Nearly one out of five shark species is classified by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature as Threatened with extinction. That doesn’t even include hundreds of species (almost half of all sharks) whose population status cannot be assessed because of lack of information. Scientists warn that, in actuality, a third of sharks might already be threatened. A healthy and abundant ocean depends on predators like sharks keeping ecosystems balanced. Overfishing is driving sharks to the brink - with many populations down by 80 percent. Tens of millions are killed each year for their meat, fins, liver, and other products.
Bycatch– or catching sharks incidentally while fishing for other commercial species – poses a significant threat to sharks.
Finning– Shark fins usually fetch a much higher price than shark meat, providing an economic incentive for the wasteful and indefensible practice of “finning” (removing shark fins and discarding the often still alive shark at sea).
Thankfully, divers are some of sharks’ closest and most influential allies. Together, we can create a powerful, collective voice to lead global grassroots change.
Here at DTL these issues are also very important to us. We make efforts to reduse, reuse and recycle as well as always making a point to remove any rubbish from the dive sites. There is also a future project of recycling tires to build an artificial reef that has already been approved by the Timor Leste government. DTL is one of the first Shark Guardian dive centres which is helping promote shark conservation. You can also help by buying a Shark Guardian t-shirt with all proceeds going toward shark conservation and education efforts.
Dive Timor Lorosae's Project AWARE My Ocean page