Awareness, Responsibility and Education

By Tamara Collins

As a child you played on its shores and splashed through its waves. As you grew, you sailed, boated and kayaked over its glistening surface, and now you dive into its mysterious depths. Our oceans, as well as our rivers and lakes, have been a constant source of pleasure and excitement, but they are also a life-giving force;the arteries of our planet.

You have found so much joy and adventure in the realm of the aquatic world that you want to give something back. You may have seen garbage washing up on your local beach, watched a favorite dive site suffocate under the choking influx of sewage or explored a coral reef scarred by a misplaced anchor. You want to make a difference, but your resources are already spread thin. Where can you go to channel your energy and take an active role in the preservation of the environment? To the worlds largest scuba diver training organization: PADI.

PADIs Project AWARE was instituted in 1990 to signify the training organizations commitment to Aquatic World Awareness, Responsibility and Education;the watchwords that make up the acronym. The financial backbone of this philosophy is the Project AWARE Foundation, established in 1992 as a non-profit, tax exempt organization dedicated to protecting the aquatic environment. It has worked with other environmental organizations and its network of professional members and affiliated dive centers and resorts, to educate, innovate, research and advocate the preservation of this precious resource.

Education begins during a students first days of training. New PADI divers are taught to respect the fragility of the environment they are entering. They are taught to be responsible divers who are constantly aware of their bodies and equipment and how they may impact the flora and fauna around them. Those who want to show real proof of their conscientious diving style can order a limited edition Project AWARE version of the PADI certification card, with a minimum $5 donation. The C-card displays the Project AWARE logo and signifies support for the foundation and its philosophies.

The Project AWARE Foundation reaches out to many other environmental organizations and governments, as well as its affiliated dive centers and resorts, for innovative solutions to increase awareness and protection of the aquatic realm. Out of this partnership has come environmentally sound artificial reef building projects, a worldwide mooring buoy project, the Great American Fish Count (GAFC) and the International Beach and Underwater Cleanup Day, which takes place September 19, 1998. This year has been designated the International Year of the Ocean by the United Nations, so this is the time to gather your friends together for a beach and underwater cleanup.

To support local cleanups and the innovative conservation efforts of individuals, the foundation has developed the Small Grants Program, which provides up to $500 to worthwhile ecology projects. In 1997, a total of more than $50,000 in grants was distributed to small groups trying to make a difference in their communities. Funds from the program are also used to assist the Center for Marine Conservation, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and other environmental agencies.

The foundation is also working to represent your concerns for the environment to the U.S. government. In the past, it has helped protect reefs in the Virgin Islands and advocated the funding and expansion of the National Marine Sanctuaries program. Currently, it is involved with Californias Clean Coastal Waters and Rivers Bond Act and the Marine Life Management Act. It also supports a bill that is now pending in the House of Representatives to establish a National Ocean Council. You can read more about the foundations legislative and administrative activities on Project AWAREs extensive and informative Web page at www.project

From the first days of training, PADI instills the philosophies of Project AWARE in its divers. Through education and its many innovative programs, PADI hopes to cultivate a generation of divers who are active in the protection and preservation of the aquatic realm;the divers chosen playground and the life source of the planet.

Pitch in to Preserve Our Oceans

The International Beach and Underwater Cleanup Day;September 19, 1998

Many people want to take an active role in the preservation of our planet, but theyre not sure how to make the most positive impact. PADI and the Center for Marine Conservation (CMC) have designed a way concerned divers and nondivers can get involved and see the immediate results of their activities. Contact PADI and you will receive all the support you need to plan your own Underwater Cleanup or participate in an event in your community.

The International Cleanup care package includes:

  • Gettin Involved Booklet;Inside are guidelines for planning your event.

  • Project AWARE Foundation Funding Guidelines;These guidelines will assist you in applying for financial support.

  • Support materials;PADI will supply recognition certificates, educational brochures and Project AWARE decals.

  • Promotional Assistance;PADI will provide promotional banners, match up your event with interested volunteers in your area, send you an advertising slick and clip art, and list your event on its Web site.

  • CMCs Underwater Data Card;Tally all collected marine debris on this data card. The information from the data collected will help PADI and the CMC demonstrate the problems of pollution in our aquatic environment.

  • Recognition Award;With the return of your summary sheet or data card, you will be presented with an award in gratitude of your involvement.

    Last year more than 500,000 people from all over the world cleaned trash from their beaches, rivers, lakes and oceans. This year, pitch in and be the one who makes the difference. For more information, call the Project AWARE Foundation at (800) 729-7234, ext. 439, (949) 858-7657, fax (949) 858-7521 or visit the Web site at To contact the CMC directly, call (800) CMC-BEACH or (757) 496-0920.