[Coral-List] NGOs, Corals and Dive Industry

Gregor Hodgson gregorh at reefcheck.org
Tue Nov 19 13:57:38 EST 2013

While we have had  frustrating encounters with dive industry professionals
including both the training companies and the manufacturers, there are many
exceptions. In particular, both the late Bob and Bill Meistrell  of
BodyGlove for many years quietly supported marine conservation activities in
California. In fact, Bob, who invented the commercial wetsuit, and his
brother Bill, sponsored the first ever underwater cleanup (near Los Angeles)
in the 1960s, worked to get seabass protected, sponsored re-seeding of
abalone and  supported the efforts of marine conservation groups in
California. Like Bill and Bob, Russ Lesser is a visionary who sees the
triple bottom line approach as the only way to go.  At the local level we
partner with dive shops throughout the US and the world, who sponsor surveys
by providing free equipment, boats, and air for our survey teams. In many
areas, we could not do our surveys without this support. DEMA has over the
years provided low-cost space for non-profits to get their message out. So
are we expecting too much?

It is a two-way street:
1. The dive industry is tiny, failing (in part due to lack of engagement
with environmental issues), and has a low profit margin and each company is
being constantly hit up for donations by an ever increasing number of marine
non-profits so they tend to draw the line.
2. Some dive industry leaders really don¹t seem to understand the triple
bottom line approach to business or they feel that they have "paid at the
office" (e.g. PADI Project Aware) and may not see any further ROI.
3. The lack of willingness of most NGOs to collaborate to achieve shared
goals.  Some of you will remember the 2008 attempt to get NGOs to
collaborate to work with the dive industry under the name "Destination
Blue." That failed when the NGOs were unwilling to financially support a
shared goal.
A simple solution is for the NGO "industry" to support dive companies that
in turn support marine conservation. One of the largest dive stores in the
LA area is Sports Chalet. After they repeatedly declined to support our
activities  financially, we simply shifted our annual purchases of tens of
thousands of $$ of equipment to other shops and manufacturers that do
support our work. Maybe one day they will realize that they missed the boat
and the ROI?

Gregor Hodgson, PhD
Executive Director
Reef Check Foundation
PO Box 1057 (mail)
17575 Pacific Coast Highway (overnight)
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272 USA
T: +1 310-230-2371 or 2360
Gregorh at reefcheck.org

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