September is Debris Month of Action, a global movement sponsored by Project AWARE, which rallies divers to participate in underwater cleanup projects. It’s part of the organization’s year-round Dive Against Debris initiative.
The idea is to get scuba divers around the world to collectively clean problem areas in their locales, collect data and images, and report on what they find. These findings can be used to identify at-risk ecosystems and possibly affect policy changes.
According to Project AWARE, more than 6 million tons of marine litter is estimated to enter the ocean each year. Trash not only injures and kills many marine animals and plants each year, it also destroys habitats and threatens our health and economy, the organization points out.
In their online FAQs, Project AWARE describes their mission this way: “Marine debris – or trash in our ocean – has risen to the top of the marine policy agenda. Scientists, resource managers and governments increasingly recognize it as one of the most serious ocean issues of our time… Divers are qualified to describe the reality of these issues underwater, take actions beyond land, and foster a sense of urgency for global ocean protection.”
Here in Florida, there are several cleanup projects going on this month. Divers can join organized projects or create one of their own. Here’s a map of Dive Against Debris cleanup activities happening around the world: http://www.projectaware.org/action-zone/map
Here’s a great video that explains the program:
Photo credits: Project AWARE Foundation