Looking at the news this morning, if I didn’t know better I’d have thought the world’s biggest challenge right now is COVID, the economy, or something other than what it really is. These are challenges society needs to deal with, but as we both know, saving the ocean is by far the biggest, most crucial challenge we face – and literally everyone has a stake in it. As Dr. Sylvia Earle once said, “We need to respect the oceans and take care of them as if our lives depended on it. Because they do.”
The good news is that while saving the ocean is our biggest, most crucial challenge, the world’s waking up to it, with progress happening with a growing ground swell of people taking it on. And, 2022 promises to be in exciting year introducing and expanding the contributions divers can make to redirect trends and shape changes we need for a sustainable healthy ocean. PADI and her people are deeply committed to this, with PADI Resorts and Dive Centers functioning as local Mission Hubs in creating and coordinating marine education outreach, cleanups, citizen science, coral restoration and other Save the Ocean initiatives. Beyond these, here are some new and expanding initiatives from PADI, PADI AWARE Foundation and local PADI Pros based on the PADI Blueprint for Ocean Action.
30 X 30
The 30 X 30 initiative is a cross-cultural, cross-organization initiative to have 30% of the ocean reserved as MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) by 2030. To make this happen, multiple groups are combining forces to leverage online petitions, community awareness and political activism to get global leaders aligned on the priority of this goal. To this end, in 2022, PADI Mission Hubs and the PADI AWARE Foundation are uniquely positioned to provide local diver support and activism that will accelerate us toward this goal. Look for some coming announcements.
You’re likely aware that many apex shark species are threatened due to overfishing, sharkfinning and as bycatch, and divers are already helping make a difference. Taking a proactive move to help restore shark populations, this year the PADI AWARE Foundation is developing a diver-based, worldwide shark census, which is important because for international resource managers, there’s little information on many of the world’s major shark species populations. Based on success with the shortfin mako and other species, these data are key to guiding resource managers to implement fishing limits, restrictions and bans as needed to restore sustainable populations. This is expected to launch by third quarter.
PADI Torchbearers and Ambassadivers
The groundswell of PADI Torchbearers continues to accelerate, with rising numbers toward the goal of 1 billion Torchbearers. Research suggests that to change how the world views ocean conservation globally, we need about 1.9 billion ocean advocates now, rising to 2.5 billion in the next three decades – so this is an important initiative. PADI Ambassadivers are active in bringing people into the fold, and you can expect them to have growing visibility in this. And if you’re not yet signed up as a PADI Torchbearer, please click here and do so now.
Mission Hub Grant Program
Announced last year, the Mission Hub Grant Program makes funding available to your local PADI Mission Hub dive operation to support programs or projects aligned with the PADI Blueprint for Ocean Action. In full swing starting this year, the grants support efforts like marine debris collection and science, species protection, coral reef conservation, climate change action and MPA establishment. This follows the philosophy that to the best way to make a globaldifference is through thousands of united local efforts.
Be an Interrupter
Saving the ocean is a huge project, but with (now) hundreds of thousands to (coming) billions of us working together, everyone doing their part, it’s not only something we can do, but it’s already happening. And if we’re honest, a lot of what we need to do is stuff we want to do – it’s fun and rewarding. Plan to take part in what your PADI Mission Hub’s doing, support PADI AWARE initiatives, complete an AWARE course, do a Dive Again Debris dive and share your love of diving with someone. Go here regularly to find out what’s going on where you are or where you’ll be.
We have a lot to do, and now and again you’ll likely hear someone say it’s impossible to save the ocean. If so, remember the words of American author Elbert Hubbard, “The world is moving so fast these days that the [person] who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.”
And keep interrupting.
Seek adventure. Save the ocean.
PADI President & CEO PADI Worldwide