The Ocean Cleanup, PADI and PADI AWARE Foundation have announced a global partnership to tackle ocean plastic pollution, and together, the organisations will mobilise divers on a local level to take action for global impact through the implementation of citizen science research.
The joint project pairs The Ocean Cleanup’s advanced technologies with the passion of the global dive community to inform ocean-friendly waste management policies in countries worldwide through data collection.
“We’re excited to be working together with the world’s leading diving organistion,” says Dan Leahy, Chief Development Officer of The Ocean Cleanup. “Their passion for clean oceans creates a natural fit between our organisations, and I’m delighted we can scale our data and research capability through their dedicated community of divers.”
In addition to its ocean cleanup efforts, the organisation is developing solutions to intercept plastic pollution in the top 1,000 most polluting rivers emitting waste into the ocean. Through the installation of ‘Interceptors’ in these rivers, The Ocean Cleanup aims to stop 80 percent of riverine plastic pollution from entering the ocean.
“By combining the ingenuity of The Ocean Cleanup’s Interceptors, which remove floating plastic, with the passion and perspective of the global dive community working to save the ocean below the surface through citizen science, this monumental partnership is poised to inform waste management solutions that will significantly reduce marine debris from the surface to the sea floor,” says Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI. “The success of preventative and lasting solutions on a global scale will only be possible through local community engagement.”
PADI’s vast network of dive centres, dive professionals, divers and other ocean advocates will drive the joint citizen science effort through regular debris surveys both at the surface and underwater in areas near The Ocean Cleanup’s Interceptors and the surrounding oceanic dive sites. The data collected, including the amount and type of waterborne plastic pollution found, will be invaluable in providing insights to governments around the world as they establish and evolve policy regarding solid waste management.
The joint citizen science campaign will be trialed in Malaysia this year, working closely with PADI dive shops in the vicinity of the Klang River where an Interceptor will be placed. Working together with local partners and the government, the PADI dive community in the region will collect data in local waters through regular river surveys, ocean surface surveys and Dive Against Debris surveys on the seafloor. The PADI AWARE Foundation’s Community Grant programme will help provide critical resource support to PADI Dive Centers and Resorts during the implementation of the project.
This project in Malaysia will set the precedent for future efforts worldwide in one of the most ambitious citizen science projects ever taken on by the dive community. Following a successful pilot project, PADI and The Ocean Cleanup will establish future efforts near heavily polluting waterways around the world, including areas of Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, the United States, Jamaica, and Thailand, and ultimately in the 186 countries around the world where PADI operates.
To stay informed about how you can get involved in this global citizen science project above and below the surface, join the community of PADI Torchbearers united in the effort to explore and protect the ocean at padi.com/conservation
Photo credit: PADI and The Ocean Cleanup