Project AWARE on Curaçao
Local divers unite to protect Curacao’s reefs and are leading the charge in the fight against plastic pollution. Early in 2017, the Curaçao Diving Industry in collaboration with the Project AWARE Foundation committed to the Adopt a Dive Site™ initiative. Four members initially adopted their house reefs, pledging to conduct monthly Dive Against Debris beach and dive site clean ups. Today, with Dive Against Debris™ events spanning from Caracasbaai to Westpunt, this program has grown to more than twelve local diving operations who are investing in the future of sustainable tourism in Curacao.
Reefs worldwide are facing threats including climate change, overfishing, water pollution and marine debris from human waste like single use plastics. While the effects of climate change must be addressed on a global scale, local communities can give their reefs the best chance of survival. They can start by reducing pressures such as fishing responsibly and reducing land-based pollution that is entering the ocean. Many Caribbean reefs, like those in Curaçao stand a good chance of surviving if local pressures can be minimized. Several organizations on the island are working diligently to help restore and protect Curacao’s reefs by tackling these issues.
Plastic pollution is affecting the oceans across the world, and some reports estimate that by 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Marine life like fish, birds and sea turtles can mistake plastic for food and eventually starve or become entangled and suffocate. Sadly, many islands did not take-action quickly enough and their reef systems have collapsed. Collapsed reef systems result in losses in tourism, fishing revenue, floods, deteriorated water quality, and less resistance to storms. Luckily, Curacao still has the chance to protect itself if action is taken immediately.
Project AWARE Unites Divers on Curaçao
“Scuba divers have a deep connection to the ocean and a desire to want to protect it. We love to mix the passion for ocean adventure with conservation,” says Jack Fishman at Project AWARE, a global movement for ocean protection.
He went on to say that, “the community of Curacao are true leaders in the fight to protect what we love. Together dive centers on the island have united to protect their local dive sites from the onslaught of trash. They realize that conservation cannot be done in isolation and that it takes the collaborative efforts of all to really make change.”
In 2017, 47 separate clean-ups events were organized removing 1,517kg’s (3,344 lbs) of marine debris by 504 volunteers made up of locals and tourists. Then, between 2018 and 2019, due to an expanded initiative, the Curaçao Diving Industry expanded to organize even more events, that included the Curaçao International Diving Festival, hoping to bridge the gap between knowledge (through teaching the Dive Against Debris™ Specialty Course) and public outreach to increase the understanding about what sustainability means to ultimately inform the citizen’s of Curaçao about individual responsibility and to drive policy change.
In 2020, largely driven by the sheer lack of tourism due to the Coronavirus (Covid-19), several Curaçao Diving Industry members – such as Ocean Encounters, B Diving and Watersports, Rebel Diving, Jan Thiel Diving, Blue Bay Diving and Watersports, Coral Divers, Central Diving, and The Dive Shop – recruited local scuba divers on many occasions throughout the year to assist in Dive Against Debris dives at many of the adopted dive sites around Curaçao.
However, the highlight of all of these incredible efforts came together in September of 2020 when FORCE BLUE, The Dive Bus Curacao, Dive Curacao, and Project AWARE organized a “Curacao Special Summer Underwater and Beach Clean-up“. This special event created a beautiful reminder about true community spirit, where a wonderful amount of divers and non-divers turned out to support this island initiative for Voedselbank Curacao, which became an incredible gathering of devoted and like-minded spirits during troubled times!
Video produced and edited for FORCE BLUE by Turtle and Ray Productions HD
Dive Against Debris on Curaçao
According to the Curaçao Hospitality and Tourism Association, “Our island’s subaquatic life is one of the many things that sets our island apart from the others in the Caribbean. So, it is of immense importance that we all work together as a sustainable community to conserve our ocean. The commitment of the Curaçao Diving Industry to the Dive Against Debris and Adopt a Dive Site Initiative is the first step for sustaining and spreading awareness of our island’s ocean life. With the assistance and teamwork of the entire community, we are certain that we can make this initiative bigger, create a sustainable change and provide the upcoming generation a healthier ecological marine life.”
If you’re a certified diver, then dive in an help protect the future of Curacao’s fringing reef system by joining one of the Curaçao Diving Industry members for a free monthly Dive Against Debris™ clean-up here on Curaçao to collect/remove marine debris and report important data. Together, we are making a difference one dive at a time. Let’s enjoy our coral reefs but let’s protect them for future generations!
About Project AWARE
Established in 1992, Project AWARE® is a global movement for ocean protection powered by a community of adventurers. Their mission is to connect the passion for ocean adventure with the purpose of marine conservation. They bring together a dedicated team of individuals around the world who share a passion for ocean protection and adventure to secure real and direct environmental victories. They collaborate, co-create and partner with individuals, governments, NGOS, and businesses who, like us, believe in a future where the ocean no longer needs protecting.
Don’t let your dives go to waste! Grab your mesh bag, scuba gear and data card to make #EveryDiveaSurveyDive.
Project AWARE’s flagship citizen-science program, Dive Against Debris®, empowers scuba divers to remove marine debris from the ocean and report data on the types, quantities and locations of materials collected.
Since the program’s launch in 2011, more than 50,000 divers have participated in Dive Against Debris in 114 countries around the world, reporting over 1 million pieces of trash. As the only underwater debris data collection program of its kind, Dive Against Debris both improves the health of ocean ecosystems through localized volunteer efforts and provides valuable information about underwater debris to help inform policy change.
“In 2020, COVID-19 has shown how human health is intimately connected with our relationship to the natural world. As we embark on a new year, we have an opportunity to strengthen our mission and vision to achieve a balance between nature and humanity. 2021 marks the beginning of what the United Nations hopes will be a pivotal decade for the global ocean. Together with our global community, we are uniquely positioned to support the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science and Decade of Ecosystem Restoration to reverse the cycle of decline in ocean health by 2030.”
Project AWARE champion’s policy change, engages and activates a global volunteer community to tackle specific objectives for global ocean protection. With offices located in Australia, United Kingdom and the United States, they take-action to create both local and global change for the ocean and the communities who depend on it. All of the global community actions collectively protect the most vulnerable marine species and decrease pollution. Project AWARE is a registered non-profit organization.