“It’s just one ocean – and it belongs to all of us.” ~ Dr. Martina Milanese
It’s astounding that the European Union would look to the SCUBA diving industry to fund a special Horizon 2020 Blue Economy initiative. With this decision, the EU recognized that scuba diving has a clear positive environmental and economic impact. Milanese is one of the lead team members of a 4-year research project, called Green Bubbles, to study the dive industry. Who knew people would look to diving for business models? (Hint: We had a clue.)
A marine biologist, Martina Milanese is a long time diver and diving instructor. For Martina, it’s all about exploring people and nature. She discovers how deeply linked they are and reconnects them when the link is severed. Humans and the seas are diverse and complex; Martina knows that a holistic approach is the way forward.
Give Meaning To the Dive Experience
“By definition, scuba diving is an immersing experience, and that’s the only way by which you can really touch base with people, reconnect them with nature, give meaning to the experience they are having. That’s where you can trigger interest and pass the message.”
Recreational SCUBA diving has become a mass leisure activity that engages millions of people worldwide. Diving can do much for society. The benefits include: ocean stewardship, education, contribution to scientific research, social inclusion, mental health, physical health, and promotion of personal development. Yet diving can also have negative impacts like damage to habitats and organisms, as well as conflicts with local communities over the use of resources and culture.
Whose Bubbles are Green?
These downsides of diving relate to the three pillars of sustainability: environment, economy and society. Green Bubbles has an agenda to tackle them from a systemic perspective.
The program trains dive shops and divers to teach sustainable choices, ocean literacy, and the benefits of sustainable diver guidelines when diving. They actively engage divers, professionals, operators, certifying agencies, MPAs and NGOs. So, if you dive with a shop that Green Bubbles trained, you will learn your scuba course plus some extra skills in ecology and scientific surveying.
“We really believe that [these] things are not clashing: you can be really green and that can also give you profit. It’s just a matter of turning the tide and [making] that happen.”
Learn more about the Green Bubbles program and its sustainable practices initiatives by listening to Martina’s complete interview at Blue Ocean Summit 2015: Dr. Martina Milanese or check out their programs via the Green Bubbles website.
Another of our speakers addressing the theme of Sustainability Programs is Julian Hyde a scientist, former dive operator and now head of Reef Check Malaysia. Julian knows the dive industry and its impacts on coral reefs. He also knows diving can be part of the solution. To read our entire article on the work Julian is doing with Reef Check Malaysia see Ocean Profiles: Julian Hyde.