Training agency PADI says it has teamed up with SeaLegacy, a US-based collective of “photographers, film-makers and storytellers working on behalf of our oceans”. Their first joint initiative is described as “a grassroots campaign developed to spark immediate and meaningful change for our blue planet”.
They hope to play a part in persuading world leaders to adopt 2030 as the target date for conserving at least 30% of global sea areas “through effective, equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas”.
Only about 5% of oceans are currently regarded as protected to any degree, and environmentalists are pushing for agreement to be reached at the UN Biodiversity COP15 later this year in China.
PADI and SeaLegacy have launched their own joint 30×30 campaign to generate action among a combined audience they say includes millions of divers, snorkellers, conservationists and ocean enthusiasts.
“In a time when so many people around the world are concerned about climate change, biodiversity loss, sea-level rise and so much more, we need to channel that anxiety into action,” says marine biologist and underwater photographer Cristina Mittermeier, SeaLegacy’s co-founder and president.
“The ocean offers so many of the critical climate solutions we need, and marine protected areas (MPAs) are a major piece of that. MPAs not only protect local species and ecosystems but sequester carbon, increase coastal resilience and revitalise local economies.”
The partners say they will encourage creation and effective management of MPAs and biodiversity conservation, while collaborating with communities and leaders on climate-crisis front lines.
“We know that change is possible in this decade, and this kind of action will help us make major strides toward healing our ocean and saving our planet,” says Mitternmeier. “One great way to get involved is to sign our petition to have the 30×30 target adopted at the Convention of Biodiversity.”
Meanwhile PADI AWARE Foundation has announced the first 16 recipients of its 2022 Mission Hub Community Grant Programme. This is designed to fund PADI dive centres or “mission hubs” and community-based NGOs and charities tackling ocean threats such as climate change, marine debris, habitat loss and species protection.
“There are so many PADI dive centres and NGOs driving meaningful local action, often with little or no funding support,” says the foundation’s global director Danna Moore. “To help ensure that these efforts succeed, PADI AWARE is committing 24% of our donations this year to the Community Grant Programme, with a goal of reaching US $1million in funding by 2024.”
The grants are allocated in five categories. In the current round, six “Coral Restoration” projects cover initiatives from Indonesia to Curaçao and Fiji to Thailand, while three “Vulnerable Species Protection” projects are underway in Malaysia, Ghana and Malta – where the UK-based Seahorse Trust is building baseline data on spiny (below) and short-snouted seahorses.
“Climate Change” covers two projects in California, with another two “Marine Protected Areas” initiatives in Fiji and the Mediterranean. The three “Marine Debris” projects are based in Florida, Washington and Bali.
Applications for the second of the three 2021/22 grant cycles close today (22 April), with the next round starting in October.