The results are in! The 2017 Our Ocean Conference hosted in Malta in October closed with governments, businesses and NGOs announcing commitments related to an array of ocean issues such as marine protected areas (MPAs), sustainable fisheries, climate change, pollution, maritime security, and sustainable blue growth.
Malta’s dive community, joined Project AWARE and PADI staff, in the Our Ocean 2017 conversation, online through social media, and offline in the water. Together, we shared our unique underwater perspective of the marine debris crisis showing what lies beneath the waves at the doorstep of the Our Ocean conference venue.
10 PADI Dive Centres and over 30 Dive Against Debris® volunteers responded to our invitation to take part in a Dive Against Debris survey to celebrate how Malta and the world's divers take care of the ocean fins on and off! On October 7, despite the wind and rough sea conditions, divers and non-divers alike worked together to remove, sort out and report an estimated 115 kgs of rubbish to Project AWARE's global marine debris database.
Since the inception of Dive Against Debris in 2011, more than 30,000 divers have conducted almost 5000 surveys, removing and reporting over 900,000 debris items from shallow ocean environments. Data collected so far consistently shows that the majority of items are plastics (currently accounting for 64% of all items reported).
With more than 340 plastic items removed from the seabed at the X-Lighter X127 Carolita dive site in Silema, the Dive Against Debris survey conducted in Malta after Our Ocean 2017 was no different. The majority of items removed and reported by the participating dive centres and volunteers were plastics - grocery bags, plastic beverage bottles, plastic pipes, and cotton buds to name just a few of the many items found underwater.
Solutions to the global marine debris issue are not possible without partnerships – large and small – and a groundswell of support for change.
“We’re grateful for the support and actions that scuba divers are taking for a clean and healthy ocean year-round fins on and off" commented Danna Moore, Project AWARE Global Operations Director who joined the Dive Against Debris survey and attended Our Ocean in Malta.
The outcome of Our Ocean 2017 was unprecedented: 437 tangible and measurable commitments; EUR 7.2 billion in financial pledges; 2.5 million square kilometres of additional Marine Protected Areas.
The Our Ocean 2017 commitments from governments and businesses will be tracked and reported on at the fifth Our Ocean Conference, which will take place in Indonesia in 2018. In the meantime, in addition to using innovative ways to encourage participation in our Dive Against Debris citizen science program, we continue to work with partners towards solutions to prevent marine debris at the source. We look forward to the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference, in March 2018, where we will be sharing the underwater perspective of the marine debris issue gained through your Dive Against Debris surveys.
Thanks to all the participating dive centres and individuals who took part in the survey and PADI Dive Day:
DiveMed - Diveshack - Dive Systems - Buddies - Neptunes - The Universty of Malta - Corsair - Scuba life Malta - OrangeShark - Aquatica - Ok Diving - Ray Micallef - Mikaela Papagiorcopulo - Nature Trust Malta