[Coral-List] Diver Distance from Reef (Chad Scott)

Chad Scott marineconservationkt at gmail.com
Sat Aug 3 07:32:45 EDT 2013

On the topic of diver distances from reefs it was mentioned that the SSI
ECOlogical program never got started. Actually the program has been running
for several years, and has been quite popular and effective at least in the
region where I work, on Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand. I myself have
given over 300 ECOlogical certifications through SSI. Students who have
already completed a Buoyancy Specialty course can receive these recognition
cards for participating on 4 conservation dive activities, for my program
this generally includes 1-2 reef survey dives, a dive to maintain corals
nurseries or artificial reefs, a dive to monitor and maintain giant clam
nurseries, underwater clean-up, mooring buoy maintenance, and more.

I think there is a lot of value in these and similar courses not only in
reducing the negative effects divers could have on the reef, but also
giving them the knowledge and skills to facilitate divers having a positive
impact on the reefs they utilize and visit. Furthermore about 75% of the
price paid by the students for each the certification cards we sell here on
Koh Tao is re-donated by SSI to local environmental projects. Currently we
are running a 5 month conservation diver training program with local kids
12-16 years old, funded mostly by the cards we sold in 2012. Currently SSI
is launching a new program called Mission Deep Blue, which will be a more
robust environmental branch of the SSI company.

Other programs such as Project AWARE and Green Fins provide training
programs for divers who want to know more about the impact humans have on
marine environments and what they can do to help out. There is really no
reason why every dive center isn’t involved in at least one of these
programs, and also working on their own local initiatives. Although I agree
with some others who have raised the point that diver damage is miniscule
in comparison to other threats, there is no excuse with the way some people
treat coral reefs while diving. I think that it is a threat which is
readily addressable and in many cases those who are causing the damage can
be converted to being the ones who will be addressing them. Every dive
organization I know has a hands-off policy, and in addition to
self-policing underwater, any instructor or dive guide observed breaking
the standards and protocols should be reported to the dive organization, in
most cases they will be suspended or expelled from teaching.

I agree with Julian and Alice that we must keep in mind that introducing
people to reefs through SCUBA diving is by far the best way to raise public
awareness on the issues facing reefs globally and foster public support for
the great work all the researchers and conservationists on this list are
advocating. Without divers, the loss of many reefs would go unnoticed, and
the sentiment from the public for their protection would be barely audible.

Thank you,

Chad Scott

Program Director

New Heaven Reef Conservation

Project Coordinator

Save Koh Tao Marine Branch <http://www.marineconservationkohtao.com/>

> Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2013 10:03:47 +0800
> From: "Julian @ Reef Check" <julian at reefcheck.org.my>
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Diver distance from Reef
> To: "'Ulf Erlingsson'" <ceo at lindorm.com>
> Cc: 'Coral -List' <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Message-ID: <010e01ce8e5b$5cdc9090$1695b1b0$@org.my>
> Content-Type: text/plain;       charset="us-ascii"
> Hi Ulf
> A couple of years ago we were approached by SSI in South East Asia. They
> were in the process of establishing their dive operator environmental
> programme (I think it was called "ecological"). If I remember right, they
> were considering making it a requirement for partners who sign up as
> "ecological" centres to participate in reef monitoring programmes, hence,
> they approached us. Nothing came of it. I just checked their website;
> nothing mentioned. It would be interesting to find out why they didn't go
> that route!
> Julian Hyde
> General Manager
> Reef Check Malaysia Bhd
> 03 2161 5948

More information about the Coral-List mailing list