Project AWARE and the 5th
International Marine Debris
As Project AWARE nears its organizational re-launch, World Oceans Day, 8th June 2011, a new approach on the issue of trash in our ocean – marine debris – is at the core of its focused ocean protection strategies. During the 5th International Marine Debris Conference (5IMDC), Honolulu, Hawaii, March 20th – 25th, Project AWARE, a conference sponsor and presenter, represented 18 years of underwater marine debris cleanups and data collection efforts by volunteer scuba divers.
“The conference was a turning point for marine debris issues, convening all sectors involved – government, industry, marine researchers and NGOs,” says Jenny Miller Garmendia, Executive Director, Project AWARE Foundation. “During a time when climate change, ocean acidification and many other ocean issues are of global concern, it was clear that it’s time heighten the marine debris issue internationally and develop a comprehensive approach to the problem.”
The IMDC, organized by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and United National Environment Programme (UNEP), was an effort to advance initiatives to combat economic and environmental impacts of marine debris, globally and locally.
Serving as Rapporteur for the conference, Project AWARE was involved in the creation of the Honolulu Commitment calling on citizens, government and industry to take responsibility for the contributions and solutions to the marine debris problem. The Commitment marks the first step in the creation of the Honolulu Strategy, a strategic framework for addressing the issue globally. Project AWARE will support the development of the Honolulu Strategy by UNEP, NOAA and other marine debris experts.
“It was very evident that Project AWARE volunteers are a critical component to the overall strategy underway. Only we can provide a global view of the underwater state of marine debris and our new program at launch will be a valuable contribution to the global effort,” says Garmendia.
Over the last 18 years, Project AWARE Foundation has partnered with scuba divers in more than 100 countries to remove and prevent marine debris underwater. Scuba divers are uniquely positioned to tackle this global ocean issue, to take action every day and prevent debris from entering the ocean.
View Project AWARE Foundation’s International Cleanup Day Snapshot 2010 detailing the global debris removal and data collection efforts of scuba diving volunteers in 669 locations worldwide.
For more information on the 5th International Marine Debris Conference and the Honolulu Strategy in progress, visit www.5imdc.org.