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PADI leading the fight at Global Plastic Treaty discussions



PADI and their global non-profit the PADI AWARE Foundation are leading the charge to help end the global marine debris problem, having an influential presence at the ongoing Global Plastics Treaty discussions of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Negotiations Committee (INC).

The Global Plastics Treaty represents a unique and crucial opportunity for a worldwide co-ordinated initiative that effectively resolves the ongoing plastic pollution crisis.

“This year we have an incredibly significant opportunity to turn the tide on plastics and are taking on the responsibility for being the voice for the ocean and the global scuba diving community known as Ocean Torchbearers,” says Danna Moore, Director of PADI AWARE.

Divers can do their part by collecting any plastic waste they see in the oceans

In March 2022, a historic resolution was adopted to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including the impacts on the marine environment. Four of the five INC sessions to negotiate the terms of this Global Plastics Treaty calling for common, global rules for plastics across its entire lifecycle have taken place so far, with the INC-5 negotiation meeting set to take place in Busan, South Korea this November.

PADI continues to take an active role in negotiations as it is debated by governments, informing decisions with critical data detailing plastic marine debris found on the bottom of the ocean floor and ensuring governments address the marine debris crisis and institute methods to safely eradicate it in the Treaty.

“The current desire to develop a binding Global Plastics Treaty presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put in place a legal instrument to end plastic pollution. It also offers a major leap forward towards meeting PADI’s Blueprint for Ocean Action goal to reduce marine debris by 50% in targeted countries,” says Moore.

Divers would much rather swim over pristine reefs and seascapes unsullied by plastic waste

“PADI and PADI AWARE Foundation are the only organizations representing the global recreational dive community in the ongoing official negotiations leading up to the anticipated agreement of the treaty in 2025. By taking part, we are informing and influencing decisions that affect our shared blue planet.”

Dive Against Debris

PADI’s Dive Against Debris, the world’s largest citizen science underwater marine debris database, is run through the AWARE Foundation. Since 2011, Ocean Torchbearers have removed and reported marine debris into the database and played an integral role in informing and advancing solutions to the global pollution problem. This includes:

  • training and mobilising over 100,000 citizen scientists to contribute to the database, helping advance ground-breaking marine research and advocating for public stakeholders to implement governmental policies
  • releasing more than 35,000 entangled marine animals from human-induced marine debris
  • influencing various governmental policies at a localized level, with recent success solidifying Vanuatu’s ban of plastic bags and informing single-use plastic policies in Australia.
Dive Against Debris dives see divers removing plastic waste and other rubbish from the seabed

Now, PADI is seeking to implement the Dive Against Debris programme into the Global Plastics Treaty as part of the global solution to remove and monitor marine debris, which is currently under consideration in Article 11 of the Treaty.

If included, this means that the programme would be recognised as an approved methodology for governments to leverage as a solution for monitoring and reporting marine debris – with the ability to influence data-driven policies that can ultimately create changes to waste-management systems and plastic supply chains around the world.

“If included, we are prepared to work with governments to ensure that the removal of plastic pollution does not damage marine habitats,” explains Moore. “Dive Against Debris is currently the only global debris removal activity that does not have a detrimental impact on fragile habitats such as seagrass and coral reef and is an important component of creating positive ocean change.”

Sadly, plastic waste can be encountered everywhere, from tropical waters to more temperate environments

Sign the Petition

PADI is calling upon all Ocean Torchbearers to help create positive ocean change by signing their petition that also tackles the marine debris crisis, holding governments and the plastic production industry accountable by having the Dive Against Debris programme included as part of the solution.

“Over the last three years in particular, PADI’s community of ocean advocates have helped secure significant wins for the ocean through signing similar petitions,” explains Moore. “In 2021, they helped us secure protection for Mako Sharks at the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), and in 2022, they helped us secure protection of requiem sharks (54 species of sharks and rays) at the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).

These were both accomplished by Ocean Torchbearers signing our petitions to urge their own local governments to take action. Now, we are rallying the global community once again for 100,000 signatures so that we will be one step closer to a plastic-free ocean.”

Dive Against Debris mesh bags are a handy tool in the fight against marine rubbish

Achieving a strong Global Plastics Treaty means ensuring that:

  1. the rate at which plastics enter the ocean is substantially decreased.
  2. avoidable plastic products that commonly enter the ocean are eliminated.
  3. governments recognise the diving community is critical in tracking the impact of the treaty. 

In addition to signing the petition, PADI encourages all scuba divers to get their Dive Against Debris certification and take part in underwater clean-up events with their 6,600 PADI Dive Centres and Resorts to help keep the data flowing to inform policy in real-time.

“For 30 years PADI has been ridding the underwater world of plastic and, together, we can finally turn the tide,” urges Moore. “With an estimated 14 million tons of plastics going beneath the surface every single year, we need all the help we can get. Join us in being a voice for the ocean and sign the petition!”

To learn more about PADI’s involvement in the Global Plastics Treaty and sign the petition, click here.

Photo credit: PADI / Jay Clue

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Picture of Mark Evans
Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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