Project AWARE: A Year in Review

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As we approach the end of 2014, it’s a special time for many people across the globe to celebrate. And here at Project AWARE, we’re celebrating YOU! Every day we receive messages, emails and images of the actions you’re taking to lead the fight for ocean protection in your local community. Whether you’re involved in Dive Against Debris, teaching the AWARE Shark Conservation Diver Specialty or urging increased protection for sharks and rays, your actions and passion inspire all of our staff, each and every day. Thank you.

Check out Project AWARE’s New infographic and the video below to see what your support has made possible in 2014. Thank you for all you do to protect the ocean.

From all of us at Project AWARE, Merry Christmas and Best Fishes for the New Year!

Teach the New Dive Against Debris Specialty

Dive Against Debris Specialty Course

This month, Project AWARE is excited to announce the launch of a New Distinctive Specialty course: the Dive Against Debris Distinctive Specialty.

Led by you, the PADI Instructor, now divers of all experience levels can be equipped with better knowledge of debris issues and empowered with the skills to complete ongoing Dive Against Debris surveys.

From planning the dive to reporting the debris data, the Dive Against Debris Distinctive Specialty prepares students to participate and support regular Dive Against Debris surveys, join other surveys, or, in case of more experienced divers, to start surveys of their own.

The course:

  • Educates divers about the messy problem of marine debris – the damage done, what it is, where it comes from, and how divers are part of the solution.
  • Equips divers with the knowledge and skills needed to conduct a Dive Against Debris survey –  considerations for creating a survey dive profile, use of photography, and decision making on what to remove and what to leave behind.
  • Highlights the five steps needed to record and report findings from a Dive Against Debris dive – weigh, sort, record, dispose, and report.
  • Explains how to join the global Project AWARE movement of scuba divers protecting our ocean planet.

If you’re looking to really make a difference and support a growing global army of volunteers combatting ocean trash, then teaching this course is for you. Students will gain a PADI certification which counts towards their PADI Master Scuba Diver and they’ll be well on their way to leading and organizing their own surveys no matter where they live or dive. Plus your Instructor Rating counts towards your own PADI Master Scuba Diving Instructor rating. PADI Course Directors can also apply for the Dive Against Debris Distinctive Specialty Instructor Trainer rating.

Join other leaders around the world and become a Dive Against Debris Distinctive Specialty Instructor today. PADI will generously donate the application fee to Project AWARE. All teaching materials are available free to download.

Project AWARE on the Road During June World Ocean Month

June 2014 marked an exciting month for the ocean! All month long, Project AWARE took advantage of strategic opportunities to represent the divers’ voice where and when important decisions were being made for the future of our ocean. From Birmingham to Washington DC, Brussels to Durban, the Project AWARE team attended key events to advocate for the ocean and make strong arguments for change. Here’s a round-up of all the action:

Marine Litter Action Network, 3 June – Birmingham, UK: First on the calendar was the launch event of the Marine Litter Network (MLAN) in Birmingham, UK on June 3rd. Over 60 delegates, including Project AWARE, came together in an attempt to drive urgent actions to tackle the issue of marine litter.

MLAN launch team photo (c) MCS
Marine Litter Action Network Launch Event, 3rd June with Domino Albert, Project AWARE Manager Europe, Middle East & Africa

Seas At Risk, 5 June – Brussels, Belgium: Fresh from the Marine Litter Action Network workshop, Domino Albert, Manager Project AWARE UK office, then travelled to Brussels to attend the Seas At Risk Annual General Meeting where Project AWARE was invited to present its achievements in support of their successful application to join 20 member organizations from 14 countries working to protect and restore the marine environment in the European Union.

Sharks International, 2 – 6 June – Durban, South Africa:
During the first week of June, Ania Budziak, Project AWARE Science and Policy Associate Director was at the International Shark Conference in Durban, South Africa where leading shark experts from around the world gathered to share current trends, identify gaps in shark and ray research and conservation, and discuss what’s in store for sharks in the future. The conference was followed by the IUCN Manta & Devil Ray Global Conservation Strategy Workshop: a review of the global conservation status of all species of manta and devil rays with the aim to develop detailed conservation actions required to conserve these species worldwide.

Sharks International, Durban South Africa
Sharks International, Durban South Africa 2-6 June with Ania Budziak, Project AWARE Science and Policy Associate Director

Bristol Festival of Nature, 14 – 15 June – Bristol, UK: In Bristol, the UK team got kids and their parents excited about the underwater world at the Bristol Festival of Nature on June 14 – 15. School children and many people attending this popular UK festival visited the marine themed Marquee where Project AWARE was exhibiting to learn more about the outstanding work divers do to protect the oceans. Emily Petley Jones, PADI Course Director from Mike’s Dive Store was also on hand to answer all diving related questions and inspire children to become scuba divers and ocean ambassadors.

Bristol Festival of Nature, 14 - 15 June
Bristol Festival of Nature, 14 – 15 June with Orsi Fulop, Project AWARE Development and Outreach coordinator

Our Ocean Conference, 16 – 17 June – Washington, DC USA Marine pollution was a key topic of discussion during the International Ocean Conference, “Our Ocean“, in Washington, DC from 16 – 17 June 2014. Ania Budziak joined experts, advocates, lawmakers, and the international oceans and foreign policy communities to address key ocean issues: Sustainable Fisheries, Marine Pollution and Ocean Acidification.

Throughout June, Project AWARE represented your voice at the highest level where and when it matters making strong arguments for change. Now the team is looking forward to supporting you during the global Finathon campaign in July and Debris Month of Action in September!

Join Project AWARE on Facebook and Twitter for more updates from the road and for the latest ocean conservation news and calls to action!

Are you an Ocean Hero? Apply to the Ocean Action Project

The search is on! Are you a local ocean hero with an innovative, results-driven project addressing marine debris solutions or focusing on protecting critical shark and ray species? If so, Project AWARE’s Ocean Action Project could be the support you need to take your project to the next level.  

We want to support strong grassroots projects that help build a wave for global ocean protection in two key focus areas: Sharks in Peril and Marine Debris.

Ocean Action Project Apply Banner Shark ImageHere’s How it Works:

1. Does your Ocean Action Project idea qualify? Check out the guidelines and application to find out.

2. Complete the simple application by 31st October and submit a photo to help tell your story and inspire the public vote.

3. Can it stand up to the rest? Project AWARE will select the best of the best and let the public cast the final vote in November. If your project is selected, you’ll receive funds to give your project the extra push to succeed.

If there’s an action orientated project that inspires you, please spread the word and invite others to apply. Feel free to be in touch with questions and stay tuned to vote for your favorite Ocean Action Project!