An Open Letter To PADI
I’m only a baby diver, I had my first dive in Malaysia in August 2015, and am currently doing my advanced open water certification in Indonesia, (loving it by the way) but I don’t think you need to be an experienced diver to see two things…
Firstly PADI pushes AWARE in all of your courses, rightly so, for those of you not in the know, AWARE stands for Aquatic World Awareness, Responsibility and Education. It was started to unify the voice of the dive community in preserving our aquatic environments. As divers it is our responsibility to not only set a good example in how we interact with the aquatic world, but also to be ambassadors and environmental advocates for it.
Secondly that there is a rubbish problem on the majority of islands offering PADI courses. Littering, dumping of trash, there are not many islands you can walk around without seeing at least some discarded trash and empty water bottles, off to the side of the road, dumped on empty plots, washed along many shorelines. This trash is not only an eyesore but runs the risk of ending up in the ocean and disastrously impacting the aquatic world.
Islands share some of the best dive sites in the world. They also share an over abundance of single portion disposables, aimed at the tourists and divers who come to enjoy the beauty of the islands.
Yes there are things than can and should be done to minimise the amount of rubbish being produced, taxing or banning individual 500ml water bottles and encouraging the use of refillable bottles and refilling stations is an easy one but it also seems to me, an admitted newbie to the dive world, that these two things are inextricably linked and being part of the first makes us obligated to do something about the second.
So to my point and suggestion; how would it be if everyone doing any level of PADI certification had to do thirty minutes garbage collection each day they are doing their course? How much cleaner and safer would the worlds Islands and therefore oceans be if this was a standard requirement? VERY is the answer! If you care about the ocean thirty minutes of your day is really not that much. And if you couldn’t possibly pick up rubbish then you should have to pay a substantially higher course fee with all of the additional money going to cleaning up and safe garbage disposal on the island you are certifying on.
There are vast floating rafts of rubbish, 100s of metres across in parts of the ocean. Potential death traps for the fish, sharks and whales that encounter them. As divers isn’t it our responsibility to stop more forming?
If people don’t care about the health of the ocean they really shouldn’t be diving in it. Obviously I think this should be a requirement of all dive certification, PADI or otherwise. I don’t particularly relish the idea of picking up trash, but I also don’t relish the idea of aquatic life being detrimentally affected by our waste, seeing another turtle choking on a discarded drinking straw or seeing another beach strewn with rubbish.
Organising beach clean ups and the like is awesome, but how much more effective could you be if every one of the thousands of people certifying with you were actively recruited as the environmental advocates we are supposed to be?
Anyway, just a suggestion Xx