A new Dive Against Debris initiative kicked off this week in Manly, NSW, Australia. Divers from Dive Centre Manly will integrate a regular Dive Against Debris survey into their dive calendar, as well as report marine debris found on any dive at any time. I was very pleased to get the program rolling by explaining the Dive Against Debris survey during their regular club night.
Project AWARE created Dive Against Debris for several compelling reasons. The main reason is that marine debris - or the rubbish/trash we allow into our oceans - is responsible for the deaths of thousands of marine animals and seabirds every year, as well as smothering coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangroves and other important habitats.
The second reason is that despite divers' proud history of completing underwater cleanups, the rubbish keeps piling up. Project AWARE recognised that if we are to make a lasting difference we had to raise the bar.
The third reason is that Project AWARE saw that only divers have the skills to find out what is down there. Many other groups survey rubbish on beaches and foreshores, but only divers can paint the underwater picture.
As a diver you can complete Dive Against Debris at any time, on any dive. You don't have to wait for an organised event: if you see rubbish on a dive stick in your BCD pocket and report it when you get out.
The data you collect will drive changes to policy and infrastructure that stops rubbish from entering the ocean. Businesses and governments won't act on marine debris unless we prove to them that it is a problem. That's hard for us divers to believe as we see so much rubbish in the water, but it's true. So together, by using the Dive Against Debris survey, we can give them the proof and convince them to act!
To get started with Dive Against Debris read the Self Study Guide, available with many other resources here. I am just now starting to rewrite all Dive Against Debris materials, so look out for new resources soon and let me know if you have any feedback on the current materials.
Dive Centre Manly will now survey Manly Cove every two months, building a set of data that will be a convincing argument for better management of rubbish. Contact Dive Centre Manly to help them tackle marine debris in Sydney Harbour here.
David Roe, Marine Conservation Officer, Project AWARE