TALK

Every June 8, divers cel­e­brate World Oceans Day and vow to be bet­ter stew­ards. There are daunt­ing chal­lenges (Read Alien In­va­sion on page 11), but there is also hope­ful progress (3D Print­ing Might Be the An­swer to Sav­ing Co­ral Reefs, page 13).

Scuba Diving - - Contents - EDI­TOR-IN-CHIEF

Don’t just dive there — do some­thing! What are your plans for World Oceans Day?

It’s the prover­bial pes­simistic ver­sus op­ti­mistic world­view, and divers wit­ness both sides. When we drop be­low the ocean’s sur­face, it’s pos­si­ble to ex­pe­ri­ence in­cred­i­ble highs — a sea teem­ing with schools of fish, or an un­ex­pected whale-shark en­counter — and de­press­ing lows: acres of bleached co­ral, or a hawks­bill tur­tle en­tan­gled in fish­ing gear. But how many of us sur­face and vow to do some­thing about it?

“As first­hand ob­servers of the ocean’s won­ders, divers are well-po­si­tioned to be pow­er­ful, pas­sion­ate ad­vo­cates for the ocean,” says An­drew Sharp­less, CEO of the con­ser­va­tion group Oceana, based in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. “If co­ral reefs are dam­aged by

ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion or shark pop­u­la­tions are dec­i­mated by cruel prac­tices like finning, that’s a loss for both ocean ecosys­tems and the divers who ex­plore them.”

Oceana is fight­ing for poli­cies that pro­tect ma­rine an­i­mals and their habi­tats, and it does so with the un­der­stand­ing that the so­lu­tions are com­plex and must take into con­sid­er­a­tion a num­ber of stake­hold­ers. “Our oceans are unique: They are the one place where two com­pet­ing im­per­a­tives — pro­tect­ing our en­vi­ron­ment and feed­ing peo­ple — can co­ex­ist,” says Sharp­less. Oceana is wag­ing war on a num­ber of fronts — fight­ing to pro­tect Belize’s seven World Her­itage Sites and its bar­rier reef; cam­paign­ing for the Shark Fin Sales Elim­i­na­tion Act, a bill that would ban the buy­ing and sell­ing of shark fins in the U.S.; and urg­ing re­spon­si­ble fish­eries-man­age­ment poli­cies. “A re­spon­si­bly man­aged ocean could pro­vide a nu­tri­tious seafood meal every day for a bil­lion peo­ple,” says Sharp­less.

For my part, I had given up us­ing many plas­tics, from bags to wa­ter bot­tles, ex­cept for one small item: the drink­ing straws rou­tinely placed on the ta­ble at restau­rants I fre­quent. To honor this World Ocean Day, I bought a re­us­able glass drink­ing straw. You can join the #stop­suck­ing move­ment or find your own cause at oceana .org. What­ever you do, don’t make it noth­ing — the fu­ture de­pends on us. — PA­TRI­CIA WUEST,

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