divers_for_sharks, marine conservation, saving sharks, protected marine area, sanctuary, marine conservationRecognizing that jobs and revenues of its multibillion-dollar industry are threatened by ocean degradation, overfishing and climate change, a group of dive industry stakeholders has launched a call to action for governments and international treaties to address threats to the world’s oceans in order to safeguard livelihoods from the effects of an impoverished marine environment.

The Letter, entitled Dive Industry Declaration on Marine Conservation, was spearheaded by marine environmental group, Divers For Sharks, and includes dive industry signatories from 34 countries. The letter calls for governments to move from talk to action now to protect the ocean.  

The Dive Industry Declaration on Marine Conservation calls attention to the grave threats faced by marine ecosystems worldwide, which endanger the dive industry and the livelihoods of those island communities who depend upon it.

The Dive Industry Declaration is a milestone for the global diving industry, requesting that governments and treaties urgently:

Put an end to overfishing and the rampant killing of endangered marine life (such as sharks, turtles and seabirds) by industrial fisheries, which continue to be heavily subsidized despite being clearly unsustainable;

* Work towards creating and implementing further no-take Marine Protected Areas, with a view of achieving 30% of all oceans fully protected;

* And finalize a binding agreement on climate change in the next few months, capable of halting global warming and ocean acidification which threaten to wipe out the world´s coral reefs in the next few decades and cause irreversible damage to ocean life webs.

According to José Truda Palazzo, Jr., CEO of the marine policy consulting firm Truda Palazzo & Associates and co-founder of Divers for Sharks, the global dive businesses initiative which promoted the Declaration, “the dive industry, its millions of customers and professionals around the world are increasingly alarmed by the degree of ocean degradation that is being witnessed by divers, impacting the very basis of our activity and threatening to put entire coastal communities out of work.”

The Declaration was first introduced in Palau in March to the Hon. F. Umiich Sengebau, Minister for Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism of Palau. The group praised the leadership that this Pacific island nation for its sustained attention on marine conservation issues. (Link to Declaration found below).

Palau’s President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. intends to make 80% of its Exclusive Economic Zone off-limits to industrial fishing in order to boost profits from a growing diving industry in the country. This move will also add value to the concession of sustainable tuna fishing permits in the remaining 20%.

Truda-Palazzo says,”Dive sites with degraded coral reefs and devoid of sharks and other fish are a disaster for our industry, and this is what overfishing and climate change are leaving behind. It´s time for policymakers around the world to follow the leadership of Palau in its bold steps towards protecting most of its marine jurisdiction from predatory industrial fishing, taking account of the thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue created by non-extractive uses of the oceans, such as diving, and safeguarding such use accordingly.”  

Jose Truda-Palazzo will be discussing the power that the dive industry can wield at the international level at the upcoming Blue Ocean Business Summit, an online industry event that launches on World Oceans Day June 8, 2015.   The Summit is free to attend. Register at BlueOceanBusinessSummit.com

Dive businesses wishing to sign the Declaration may contact: José Truda Palazzo, Jr. – Truda Palazzo & Associates – Manta Ray Bay Resort/Yap Divers palazzo@mantaray.com;  and Paulo Guilherme Alves Cavalcanti – Onda Azul Diving and Marine Studies Center – Divers for Sharks – info@diversforsharks.com.br

Photo: José Truda Palazzo, Jr. (right), on behalf of the dive industry signatories, presents the Letter from Palau to the Hon. F. Umiich Sengebau, Minister for Natural Resources, Enviroment and Tourism of the Republic of Palau. Credit: Divers for Sharks