divers_for_sharks, protected marine sanctuary, marine preserve, marine conservation, ocean issuesAn unprecedented international dive initiative is being launched by environmental group Divers for Sharks and the Brazilian-based non-profit Augusto Carneiro Institute. The team invites dive industry members from around the globe to unite as a single voice, to draw world attention to the grave threats faced by a fundamental and shared resource, the ocean.   Representatives from all industry stakeholder groups, including dive operators, dive shops, dive resorts, live aboards and trade associations, are invited to add their names to the document (link below to full document).

The Dive Industry Declaration on Marine Conservation will be presented to world leaders during meetings where two very important pieces of international legislation, both with direct bearing on marine conservation, are now being debated:  one Treaty is on climate change, to be finalized still in 2015, and another on marine conservation in the high seas. It will also be sent to all relevant international agencies dealing with biodiversity, fisheries and tourism.

From overfishing to climate change, the effects of ocean degradation are being felt and recorded by an increasing number of dive operators and professionals around the world. Many dive industry members are well aware of their responsibility towards tackling the challenges that continue to promote ocean degradation.  There are several initiatives already at the local, national and industry-wide level to address some of these impacts.  Blue the Dive is just one such initiative that is galvanizing the industry to be proactive in being part of the solution to problems facing the ocean.

Seeing the growing business activism within the industry, organizers of the Dive Industry Declaration on Marine Conservation believe now is a critical time for as many industry members as possible to unite under one umbrella to send a powerful message to world governments and international agencies to do more, faster, to protect our shared ocean heritage.

The Dive Industry Declaration on Marine Conservation recognizes that the ocean – the essential environment where the dive industry conduct bases its work and businesses – is under siege from an array of impacts caused by human activities. The three-part Declaration: 

*  Addresses the need for no-take marine sanctuaries that are essential for the diving industry´s development and its ability to generate sustainable jobs and revenue.  It applauds the leadership of the Republic of Palau and other Pacific Island Nations peoples and leaders in declaring vast areas of their jurisdictional waters as marine sanctuaries, while noting that the world is still far behind in reaching the Convention on Biological Diversity´s target of at least 10% of coastal and marine areas effectively protected;

*  Expresses serious concern for the continued overfishing of the oceans.  The diving industry is threatened by overfishing and unsustainable and destructive fisheries practices, and fisheries officials must take into account the interests of non-extractive users of the oceans when making decisions that affect all.

*  Calls the attention of decision-makers and the general public to the threat climate change poses to the world´s oceans, especially through ocean acidification, widespread coral reef destruction, and ecosystems disruption, while also threatening the livelihoods of island and coastal human communities. The dive industry´s interests and the livelihoods of the island and coastal peoples must be considered by climate change negotiators from all countries and that a final, binding and effective agreement on this serious issue is reached still in 2015.

The Declaration’s lead organizers Paulo Guilherme Alves Cavalcanti , a.k.a. “Pinguim” and  José Truda Palazzo, Jr. who are also co-founders of Divers for Sharks, have already been testing the international treaty waters:

*  In 2010, the team took the Divers for Sharks voice to international meetings such as ICCAT, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, and others, realizing that these international bodies usually just listen to the fisheries lobby. After years of behind the scenes work, the team finally got representation at the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species, held in Bangkok in 2013, and successfully lobbied on behalf of protection for sharks and manta rays.

*  Following their first few forays, the team spearheaded the signing and delivery of the “Declaration of Non-Extractive Businesses Declaration” launched at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Korea in 2014. 

*  The team then took the same Declaration to the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Parks Congress in Sydney where it was well received. At this conference, the United Nations Environment Programme Civil Society liaison helped to circulate their declaration, and advised the team that for the Declaration to make the greatest impact, to specifically focus in the diving sector with signatories from for-profit companies and business-related civil society groups. 

According to Jose Truda Palazzo, “A major lesson learned during our interactions with government delegations at international treaties and government meetings is that when you say you represent a ‘commercial interest’ – eg dive operators, hotels, and the like – you TRULY  get the attention from official delegates.”

The Declaration will be presented at two essential treaty negotiations. The clear scientific imperative for action has put these two treaties on the front burner for world governments:  

*  In January 2015, Governments have agreed to begin negotiating the first UN High Seas Biodiversity treaty (under the UN Law of the Sea Convention) that specifically addresses the protection of marine life in an area covering half the planet – those ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction – to be agreed by 2018.

*  UN negotiations are under way to develop a new international climate change agreement that will cover all countries. The new agreement will be adopted in 2015, at the Paris climate conference, and implemented from 2020.

Pinguim is a SSI Platinum Pro 5000 diver and environmental activist, and a living legend in the Brazilian dive industry, and the owner of Onda Azul Dive Center based in Rio de Janeiro.  José Truda Palazzo, Jr. is the founder of Truda Palazzo & Associates, in Canoas, a suburb of Porto Alegre, in Brazil, and has been working in the conservation arena for many years.   

To add your name and company to the Declaration, simply write to josepalazzo@gmail.com with your compay´s name, email and the full name of the person responsible for signing.

For more information please contact:  josepalazzo@gmail.com or info@diversforsharks.com.br