By Reef Check Malaysia
Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) and Scuba Schools International (SSI) have announced a collaboration to raise awareness of coral reef conservation issues among student divers.
A five point Action Plan has been established to provide a framework for the collaboration. The focus of the Plan is to help instructors and dive schools to efficiently deliver specific information on good conservation habits to student divers. Dive instructors will be provided with easy-to-use tools designed to encourage reef-sensitive behavior.
Julian Hyde, General Manager of RCM said: “Divers are natural ambassadors for coral reefs. However, dive training currently focuses on technical skills and meeting performance requirements. Our goal is to improve the content of conservation-related materials at the initial training stage, to ensure that divers start off with the right attitude to reef conservation. We are hoping that this new approach will introduce a missing element: respect for the marine environment.”
Given that the materials will be used at the initial training stage, the SSI approach to training is ideal. According to Nick Khoo, SSI Director of Operations - Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei: “SSI encourages instructors to be creative and use additional materials to deliver appropriate messages. So this new collaboration fits with the existing training philosophy, increasing the chances of success.”
But it doesn’t end there. According to Hyde: “There are lots of certified divers out there who didn’t receive much information about reefs and conservation issues when they completed their training, so many are unaware of the impact – both positive and negative – that they can have. These new materials will therefore have the dual purpose of promoting better habits among certified divers, too.”
The Plan also provides for new initiatives in the future, such as RCM and SSI working to encourage divers to move beyond just entry level “conservation-related specialties”. Nick Khoo says: “SSI has an Ocean Ranger specialty course; we are hoping that once their interest is aroused, we can encourage divers to move on to the more detailed Reef Check EcoDiver course, to learn how to participate in reef monitoring and really make a difference.”
And according to Hyde, it doesn’t have to end with diving. “Why not encourage people to apply the same conservation and sustainability lessons to the rest of their lives? All of us can do more to reduce our personal impacts, whether it means leaving Nemo in peace while diving, or reducing water and electricity consumption in the home. Every little bit counts.”