As a Dive Instructor at The Dive Bus, Curacao, there are a lot of other things to do besides diving.
And there are a lot of other things to in the ocean besides diving.
And Curacao's inhabitants love fishing.
It's a very long-standing and respected profession and tradition, and wooden, hand-made fishing boats are proudly passed down from generation to generation of fishermen.
Over weekends and holidays, the 'have-a-go' fishermen take to the ocean to catch snapper for supper on our beloved house-reef, Pierbaai, amongst other locations.
It may not be eco-friendly or well controlled, with clouds of the have-a-go's lost fishing line choking the reef. But it's part of the way of life here in Curacao (and thousands of other islands) and has been for hundreds of years. And hey, who doesn't love a fresher-than- fresh snapper supper, right?
Divers tend to have different perspectives and opinions (except in terms of fresh snapper suppers).
We see the damage caused by wayward anchors. We see beautiful gorgonians and colourful stovepipe sponges - and even, recently, a huge green moral - tangled up in, or choked to death by, ancient, algae-covered fishing line.
And there's an invisible concern regarding the fishing line problem: the lead weights attached to them. Over time underwater, they dissolve, poisoning the ocean, the reef and its inhabitants.
=> Everyone has the right to enjoy the ocean. But the age-old question is: who is responsible for taking care of it and balancing that with the needs of ocean users?
An initiative by the Blue Halo Project is aiming to manage age-old challenge by seeking solutions which balance the needs of all ocean users in Curacao - and therefore help the ocean. Have your say by taking part in their extremely important research: the Ocean Users's survey, here. Because your input matters, whether you live here or vacation here.
In the meantime, all The Dive Bus Crew - and many of our divers - clear trash from the reef on just about every dive we make. And we arrange dive site clean up events and do our best to raise awareness to good folks like you about the importance of protecting the reef. And we're pretty proud of the HUGE difference that our Crew and divers have made to our house reef, Pierbaai, over the years.
One of our most successful initiatives, introduced a few years ago, was setting up collection boxes for divers to drop fishing line lead that they clear from their regular dives.
Within the first two months, we had over 18 pounds of fishing weights, from Pierbaai, Tugboat, Porto Mari, Vaersenbaai / Kokomo and Directors Bay in the container.
Here's how this underwater trash gets transformed into treasure:
Feel free to contribute to the old lead collection next time you're diving in Curacao, and help make a difference.
Because when it comes to reef conservation and protection, every little helps - and you don't have to be wet to do it, or even anywhere near the ocean.
Here are examples of plenty of ways that you, as a diver and Ambassador for our precious underwater world, can help:
- Top tips from Project AWARE about how you can protect our reefs
- How to make a difference every day - without even getting wet
- Choose a Project AWARE 100% AWARE dive operator whenever you go divin'
- Take part in the Blue Halo Ocean Users' survey
- Share this Blog post with your family, friends and colleagues and raise awareness
Thanks for doing your bit :)