September's Debris Month of Action saw thousands of divers across the world gear up and dive in to remove dangerous rubbish, nets, fishing traps and household waste from our ocean. From the islands of Fiji up to the waters of Devon, UK and all the way back to Brazil and South America, divers everywhere rallied together for one month of action to draw attention to our ocean’s silent killer: marine debris.
This large scale action to protect our reefs has been mind blowing. We’ve exceeded all our expectations. We’ve worked together as a community: diving businesses, local businesses and government authorities. ”Tony Andrews, PADI Regional Manager
On the island of Phuket, Thailand new records in the fight against debris were smashed on 30th September. Over 650 divers and beach cleaners took part in the biggest Dive Against Debris event in the world with PADI Dive Centres working together as part of a recently formed group called Go Eco Phuket. They removed around 15 tonnes of rubbish including a massive discarded fishing net that weighed in at 4.5 tonnes.
Created to support Project AWARE actions and kick start local environmental initiatives, dive centres around Phuket pulled together to establish its first major Dive Against Debris event. With support from PADI Asia Pacific and led by PADI Regional Manager and Project AWARE Ambassador, Tony Andrews, the event gained incredible support from local businesses, the Royal Navy, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Marine Fisheries, Marine Police, Phuket Marine Biological Centre, Army and the Thai Aor- Ba-Jor.
Tony Andrews, PADI Regional Manager commenting on the event said, “This large scale action to protect our reefs has been mind blowing. We’ve exceeded all our expectations. We’ve worked together as a community: diving businesses, local businesses and government authorities. Thank you to everyone who rallied around this event to make our ocean cleaner.”
More than 12 government offices and departments pledged their support for this first Dive Against Debris event, from Chalong Municipality providing waste management for all the debris from the pier to the Royal Thai Navy sending three warships to maintain a perimeter to protect divers from speedboats that frequent the islands.
"Never before have so many dive centres, local businesses and community groups come together to tackle rubbish in their own backyard. It's incredibly inspiring and motivating to see this level of action," added Andrews.
The divers and Phuket community partied the night away at a sponsored after event with famous local and national Thai bands dropping in to show their support. $4,000 was also raised for future Go Eco Phuket activities as well as a generous donation of 30,000THB to Project AWARE Foundation from Khao Lak Scuba Adventures.
Go Eco Phuket now hope to continue with regular Dive Against Debris surveys as part of their local actions.
Thank you to everyone involved in this event and other Dive Against Debris actions worldwide.
Dive Against Debris – All Year Round
Since January 2012 Project AWARE divers and supporters have removed 28,751 kilograms of rubbish from the ocean and shoreline. Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris is the only global survey of its kind recording debris found solely underwater. You can Dive Against Debris every time you dive or lead an effort locally. Read the Dive Against Debris Survey Guide on www.projectaware.org and be part of the global solution to tackle the growing tide of rubbish.