PADI divers help to intercept plastics
An Interceptor in Malaysia. (Picture: The Ocean Cleanup)
Environmental body The Ocean Cleanup has linked up with PADI and the new PADI AWARE Foundation in a bid to tackle ocean plastics pollution on a wide scale.
The three organisations want to involve divers in what PADI calls “one of the most ambitious citizen-science projects ever taken on by the dive community”.
The Ocean Cleanup made headlines when it was founded by then-18-year-old inventor Boyan Slat in the Netherlands in 2013. It now employs nearly 100 engineers and researchers engaged in a two-pronged assault on plastics pollution.
Its initial plan was to develop large-scale technological systems able to compact and collect plastics already accumulated in the ocean, recycling this material into durable products to fund continuing operations.
In 2019, the organisation launched the other half of its strategy with its Interceptors, aiming to use these to extract 80% of surface plastics from the world’s 1000 most polluting rivers before it could even reach the ocean. theoceancleanup.com
“We’re excited to be working together with the world’s leading diving organisation,” said Dan Leahy, The Ocean Cleanup’s chief development officer. “Their passion for clean oceans creates a natural fit between our organisations, and I’m delighted we can scale our data and research capability through their dedicated community of divers.”
“By combining the ingenuity of The Ocean Cleanup’s Interceptors, which remove floating plastic, with the passion and perspective of the global dive community working to save the ocean below the surface through citizen science, this monumental partnership is poised to inform waste-management solutions that will significantly reduce marine debris from the surface to the sea floor,” said PADI president and CEO Drew Richardson.
“The success of preventative and lasting solutions on a global scale will only be possible through local community engagement.”
The idea is for PADI’s network of dive-centres, dive professionals and recreational divers to drive the joint citizen-science effort through surface and underwater surveys near the Interceptors and at surrounding oceanic dive-sites.
25 June 2021
Data collected on the amount and type of waterborne plastics found will help to inform governments in evolving waste-management policies, says PADI. A pilot project is set to take place in Malaysia later this year with an Interceptor in the Klang river.
PADI divers in the region will collect data through regular river, ocean surface and Dive Against Debris seabed surveys. The formation of the PADI AWARE Foundation was announced on World Oceans Day on 8 June, and its Community Grant is expected to provide resources to participating PADI dive-centres and resorts.
Action in areas of Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the USA, Jamaica and Thailand are expected to follow suit if the pilot project is successful.