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|Cambridge/Nairobi, 27 July 2004 – Snorkellers and scuba divers across the globe are being enlisted to help save the world’s oceans and seas. A new initiative, called earthdive, is being launched in which professional and amateur divers are being urged to record the health of the marine environment including coral reefs, mangrove swamps and coastal waters.|
The scheme, which is being supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) through its World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) in Cambridge, England, is the brainchild of Chris Long.
Mr Long, a keen diver and the founder of Run the World (a mass participation event which raised awareness and funds for victims of the African famine in 1986) said: "If threats such as pollution, over-fishing and climate change continue, it could lead to dire consequences for the global population".
"earthdive wants people with an interest in diving to understand that what they see under the oceans is not just beautiful, it also sustains human life, and they can help to preserve it by simply recording what they see," he added.
Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director, said: "The world’s oceans and their valuable habitats provide food and livelihoods for many people across the globe in activities ranging from fishing to tourism."
"In conserving the oceans, we are not only saving a key part of the planet’s life support systems and many wonderful marine life-forms, we are also playing a key role in meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals in areas from poverty eradication to hunger reduction," he said.
earthdive membership is extended to divers and snorkellers of all abilities, as well as anyone with an interest in marine conservation issues. The key feature of the scheme centres on encouraging members to record findings from their dives on the earthdive website (www.earthdive.com).
By doing this, they will be contributing scientific data on key indicator species to build a Global Dive Log (GDL). This Global Dive Log is sponsored by P&O.
Members also sign an international petition, demanding action to protect the oceans, which will be delivered to the United Nations in 2005. Meanwhile 50% of all membership fees go directly to marine conservation projects.
UNEP-WCMC, which has been providing scientific assessments of biodiversity for a quarter of a century and is one of the world’s leading centres for coral reef conservation, is providing a unique mapping service. It will allow divers to pinpoint locations and log their observations, which in turn can be shared with other divers and the scientific community.
Mark Collins, the Centre’s Director, said: "We are making a significant contribution to the development of the earthdive Global Dive Log through our innovative interactive map service (IMapS). By combining recreation with conservation, earthdive can help spread important environmental messages to a much wider audience."
These sentiments are echoed by Coral Cay Conservation (CCC), another earthdive partner. Formed in 1986, the organisation aims to help sustain livelihoods and alleviate poverty through the protection, restoration and management of coral reefs and tropical forests.
Much of their work depends on the goodwill of volunteers, who make tens of thousands of dives a year to survey marine life. Coral Cay Conservation’s Founder and CEO, Peter Raines MBE, is a keen advocate of the earthdive principles.
"There is a natural link between diving and environmental protection, and we are working closely with earthdive to encourage more people to bring the two together.
Recreational diving is a fast growing sport, with more than 1.5 million new divers being certified each year.
earthdive has a unique opportunity to unite this rapidly-growing community in vital conservation activities, which are ultimately of enormous benefit to us all," he said.