I went to Papua New Guinea last year to support the Coral Sea Foundation. An awesome program which teaches local PNG ladies how to scuba dive & how to survey the coral reefs. The two-week program went well, and you could see the ladies grow. At the end of the two weeks, they were stronger and very excited about how they take back all the learnt skills and act as coral reef advocates in their communities. While I was there, I meet several local community leaders from the surrounding islands. One of the questions I asked was “what was the biggest shark you have seen?” The answers varied but were 1 to 3 meters in size. I was astounded, in this area, they should be larger. They did go on to say that their fathers had seen larger ones and in abundance, but not now. Unfortunately, in this area, illegal shark finning is rife as the communities are poor and need an income. Several dodgy agents actively buy the shark fins so the villagers go fishing for the shark fin only and throw the rest in the ocean... If we had more awareness, more rangers and more income for the communities this would reduce and eventually stop.
You can find detailed video stories at The Coral Sea Foundation - Sea women of Melanesia Program. Please check them out.
Picture: the ground covered with drying shark fin...@shawnheinrichs
This is where Pelagic Dive Travel helps. They are numerous marine conservation organisations & initiatives out there which have programs in place for awareness, education, direct support and research. With our search by marine species and “conservation” matched against the dates of travel, we can provide a way for divers not only to search but to book, pay & receive an instant confirmation. We don’t hold any of the funds it goes directly to the organisation. (If they have a product in place, some are commission-based if not then we work on how we can help. We do need to advertise).
There are programs which offer a volunteer-type role. We search for programs that have an organisation attached to them which tend to be in remote areas, and there will be a cost. The reason is you are volunteering but you still need to pay for accommodation & your food. They tend to be reduced in price. (If you’re in your home city and your volunteer you're offering your time, you still travel to the venue offer your time and travel back home. You then cook your dinner and sleep in your home. Technically you’ve just paid for your transport, your dinner and your accommodation. If you travel to another country, you need to pay for your transport. If you stay at someone’s place you pay for your accommodation and then if your hungry you pay for your meal. If you expect it all free as your “volunteering” who then pays? You paid in your home city should someone else pay for your trip to another city? No. You are volunteering your time, yes, but a marine organisation shouldn’t have to pay for all your costs. They offer a reduced cost which does need to be covered, so please remember that when deciding on a volunteer program.)
Picture: A volunteer out on patrol with the locals. They are relocating turtle eggs against predators and poachers. Location - Conflict Islands
There are also Dive Resorts & Resorts out there that say they have a marine conservation focus. Some of these claims are dubious. If you’re such a resort why offer plastic straws? Why run a generator 24/7? Why do you pump sewage directly into the sea? Having a range of negatives against the positive doesn’t make it an Eco Resort. We help by offering a clear set of guidelines. Simple things really which all dive suppliers should be doing. What’s also important is that they are either run and owned by the local communities or there is a support or education program in the local community.
Picture: Kalimaya Dive Resort, Indonesia. This resort was built from sustainable local wood, has no single-use plastic, and has a bio sewage system. They also employ locals in the resort & as dive guides. They are also trying to build a relationship with the local dynamite fishermen ( he has stopped but they want to offer him employment so it would start again. These are some of the things which mean they are acting for the marine environment.
If you are a marine organisation or Initiative, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be listed.
If you’re a scuba dive please join us in the member's area, as we will have a monthly newsletter which outlines the new products and programs that are available.
Thank you and I hope to see you out scuba diving