Written by Megan Denny
For most people, ocean pollution is out of sight, out of mind, but as a dive professional you know that in many places there are significant debris problems lurking beneath the waves. That’s why Project AWARE® created Dive Against Debris® as a citizen science program that empowers you and your fellow divers to deliver critically needed data about the marine debris found in underwater habitats.
Since Dive Against Debris began in 2011:
- More than 30,000 divers have participated
- 900,000+ pieces of trash have been collected and reported
- Thousands of entangled marine animals have been discovered
The marine debris data reported by divers is essential to addressing and preventing ocean pollution. For example, last year, 26 percent of all debris items reported through Dive Against Debris was abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG). ALDFG, also known as ghost gear, refers to derelict fishing gear that continues to capture fish and other marine animals long after it’s been lost or abandoned by fishermen). Ghost gear is devastating to marine habitats, entangling and killing hundreds of species including seals, turtles, dolphins and whales. In a 2007 survey, NOAA estimated there are 85,000+ lobster and crab ghost traps in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary alone.
Through their Partnerships Against Trash, Project AWARE is committed to developing solutions with individuals, governments, NGOs and businesses including alliances such as the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI). Just this year, GGGI initiated ghost gear prevention and recovery programs in Alaska, Maine and the United Kingdom.
The ocean we love needs all hands on deck to protect it. By encouraging your student divers and customers to Dive Against Debris, we can improve the health of ocean ecosystems and provide valuable information about underwater debris to policy makers.
Reporting Marine Debris Just Got Easier
Project AWARE’s new Dive Against Debris app for Android and iOS makes it easy to report marine debris data. With the Dive Against Debris app you can:
- Quickly report debris by choosing from a list of common debris items
- Easily add a dive site location using your mobile device’s GPS
- Copy information from a previous submission at the same dive site.
- No data connection? No problem. The app will store your data as a draft for you to complete and submit once connectivity is restored.
The free app is available for download after August 21 from the App Store or Google Play. Download it to report marine debris data and help spread the word.