[Coral-List] NGOs, Corals and Dive Industry

suzanne garrett slgarrett at hotmail.com
Thu Nov 21 02:15:04 EST 2013

I too have read the recurring discussions about divers, DEMA and conservation and finally feel compelled to jump into the fray.

I'm a diver and ocean advocate from the DC nonprofit arena. I've spent the last eight years or so encouraging the dive industry to engage in ocean conservation, first for an ocean policy focused organization, and later on my own simply because I believe the dive community (including the industry) can be strong allies for sustainable oceans. Like Gregor, I've been involved in a number of multi-party initiatives to raise the profile of oceans within the industry, and while industry members were involved, these efforts came largely from the conservationists. I've seen divers speak up for the protection of corals and marine wildlife, and sat in stakeholder meetings in DC wondering why the dive industry was absent while the surfers and fishers were represented. I share Steve's frustration with DEMA, having been told that they're willing to support conservation programs but wish to leave issues off the agenda. Or in some cases, DEMA has very different views on a piece of marine legislation (the US National Ocean Policy comes to mind). 

I have to say, having recently attended the latest DEMA Show, that I have hope. A new initiative, "Bluing the Dive Industry," is gaining traction. The difference is that it's coming from within the industry, with the support of the conservation community. They're recognizing that their customers want to be involved in citizen science programs and seek out voluntourism opportunities, that their practices could be improved (ie, product packaging), that they have a impact on oceans and should be part of the solution. They're looking into standards and best management practices like the Blue Star program. And I should be saying "we" because this is a collaborative effort between two intricately linked groups. Maybe instead of referring to the dive and conservation communities, we'll simply fall under the ocean community.

Check out what's happening here (http://www.divetravelbusinessnews.com/divetravelarticle/the-ocean-is-our-silent-partner-yet-it-has-no-place-at-the-dive-industry-table), and consider supporting this effort.

Suzanne Garrett 

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