50 SHADES OF MA­RINE POL­LU­TION

Dark­en­ing lo­cal waters mo­ti­vate diver to take ac­tion for con­ser­va­tion

Sport Diver - - Koh tao - By Alexa Ward, Project AWARE Com­mu­nity Re­la­tions Spe­cial­ist

Born in Hong Kong in the late 1960s, Eian Kee grew up on the small is­land of Lamma. With a home near the sea, he could smell the salt in the air and lis­ten to the sound of waves crash­ing. He spent his youth swim­ming and snorkelling, the sen­sa­tion of weight­less­ness and the si­lence un­der­wa­ter be­came an es­cape from the stress of daily life. With his first pay­check, he ea­gerly signed up for scuba classes and be­gan his div­ing jour­ney. As Hong Kong’s econ­omy be­gan to ex­plode in the mid-1980s, man-made in­fra­struc­ture and rapid pop­u­la­tion growth started to take a toll on nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ments. It wasn’t un­til Eian no­ticed his once-clear turquoise seas be­gan to change to shades of dark, pol­luted green that he re­alised he needed to stand up for ocean pro­tec­tion. As Eian no­ticed increasing amounts of ma­rine de­bris dur­ing his dives, he be­gan to look for op­por­tu­ni­ties to take ac­tion for ma­rine con­ser­va­tion - he found the per­fect fit in Project AWARE’S Dive Against De­bris® pro­gramme. Start­ing in May of 2016, Eian gath­ered a group of friends, fam­ily and dive vol­un­teers from Blue Ocean Dive Club to meet monthly for Dive Against De­bris sur­veys through Hong Kong’s sum­mer sea­son (May through Oc­to­ber). Av­er­ag­ing about 27 vol­un­teers per gath­er­ing, vol­un­teers con­sis­tently gath­ered in lo­cal dive sites around Hong Kong to re­move, record and re­port ma­rine de­bris items to Dive Against De­bris. His team gath­ered more than 522 pieces of trash - in­clud­ing bev­er­age bot­tles, cans, food pack­ag­ing and var­i­ous fish­ing equip­ment - to­tally 130kg. The suc­cess of their ef­forts and com­mit­ment of his vol­un­teer team has mo­ti­vated Eian to con­tinue and ex­pand his Dive Against De­bris work in 2017. He ex­plains: “As a scuba in­struc­tors we stand on the fore­front of ocean con­ser­va­tion. I be­lieve that through ed­u­ca­tion, shar­ing and com­mit­ment to eco-safe div­ing prac­tices, we can en­cour­age peo­ple to ad­dress ma­rine eco­log­i­cal is­sues and get in­volved in con­ser­va­tion.” Thanks, Eian, for your com­mit­ment to Dive Against De­bris. Learn more about the ma­rine de­bris is­sue and how you can take ac­tion against trash through Dive Against De­bris! Visit: www.pro­jectaware.org

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