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Divers say they can give quarry a safe and useful future

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Transforming a quarry where two teenagers died into a water sports and diver training centre has been suggested as a way of enhancing safety at the site.

Divers who use Prestonhill Quarry in Fife say that establishing the first centre of its kind in Scotland there would allow access to the water to be controlled and leisure use to continue.

Since John McKay, 18, drowned last month, there have been calls for the flooded Inverkeithing quarry to be drained and filled in.

Gillian Barclay, whose son Cameron Lancaster, also 18, lost his life there just 10 months earlier, is among those who want to see a community takeover of the site to allow it to be filled.

However, divers have initiated talks they hope could result in the quarry being retained with authorised access only.

Qualified BSAC instructor Andrew Murray said: “The dive community is absolutely shocked and saddened by the loss of life at the quarry.

“Many of those in our group are parents and we share the feelings of the community.”

But he added: “We feel that draining the quarry and filling it in will just move the problem elsewhere.”

He and fellow divers hope to meet councillors and representatives of the community and emergency services soon to put forward proposals which he said could go towards making the quarry a “safe and sustainable” place.

The quarry is regularly used by dive clubs from around Fife, Lothian and further afield.

Mr Murray said: “There are a number of flooded quarries in England that are safe and sustainable inland water sports centres but Scotland has nothing like this.

“Perhaps now is the time for Prestonhill Quarry to become a legitimate centre with a range of safety and security measures.”

Such an initiative, he reckoned, would cost thousands of pounds, compared with the hundreds of thousands of pounds that buying and filling in the quarry would.

He said: “If it was agreed that a water sports and activity centre was the way forward, then with some very straightforward measures around safety and security access could be controlled.”

Effective perimeter fencing could be installed to restrict access to authorised users, he said, and life-saving equipment and security cameras monitored by police installed.

He continued: “One of the reasons that people are going to the quarry is that it is seen by them as an illegitimate destination.

“We feel we have something to offer the local community by way of education, training and providing facilities for people to do something positive rather than go there for other purposes.

“We are aware there is an initiative to buy the quarry. We don’t want to appear insensitive to that but at this stage we feel that all options should be on the table for making it safer.”

Mr Murray said the proposal would have been made eventually had the tragedies not occurred but that they underlined the need to do something.

Source: www.thecourier.co.uk

Photo: Olaf Pe

Marine Life & Conservation

Dive Guides invited to apply for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship

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Reef-World’s campaign is helping dive guides in need receive Green Fins environmental certification

The Reef-World Foundation – international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is calling for dive guides to submit their application for the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship.

As a result of the Scholarship campaign, dive guides working around the world – including Brazil, the Philippines, Egypt, Colombia, South Africa, Indonesia and Turkey – have received their certificate proving their status as a Green Fins certified dive guide. Yet, thanks to funding from Reef-World’s partner Paralenz, 149 more scuba diving guides will be able to receive their Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course environmental certification.

Dive guides who meet the criteria (outlined below) can apply for the scholarship at any time through the Green Fins website. To be eligible for the scholarship, guides must:

  • have completed and passed all modules of the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course
  • be able to demonstrate they or their employer are not financially able to purchase the certificate
  • be a national of a country which receives official development assistance from the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Scholarship was created in response to feedback from dive guides who had passed the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course and were keen to download and display their personalised electronic certificate but were not financially able to cover the associated cost (£19 / $25 USD). The personalised electronic certificate can be displayed to entice eco-minded guests by informing them the guide has received this vital environmental certification and is aware of how to reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with diving.

Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or run-off from land containing pollutants and plastic debris as well as the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures. The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course, created with the support of Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS) and running on their innovative EVO e-learning platform, teaches dive professionals how to prevent diving-related damage to coral reefs by following the highest environmental standards and better managing their guests to prevent damage to the reef.

Sam Craven, Programmes Manager at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We’re proud to be offering dive guides around the world the opportunity to become Green Fins certified; no matter their background. Both the e-Course and the Scholarship have been a great success so far and we’re delighted to see so many dive professionals demonstrating their commitment to sustainable tourism by taking the course. We urge dive guides who haven’t yet taken the course to consider taking this step and welcome Scholarship applications from anyone who meets the criteria. Together, we can protect coral reefs through sustainable diving and we’d love as many dive guides as possible to join us.”


Dive guides who want to be considered for scholarship can visit www.greenfins.net/green-fins-dive-guide-scholarship-applications to apply.

To donate to the Green Fins Dive Guide Scholarship Fund, please visit www.greenfins.net/appeal/sponsor-a-dive-guide.

Supporters who are interested in helping additional dive guides receive their certifications can also donate to Sponsor a Dive Guide.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Go Fish Free this February

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There are no longer plenty more fish in the sea! Fish Free February challenges you to help protect our oceans by removing seafood from your diet for 28 days and helping to raise awareness of the issues caused by intensive fishing practices.

Our oceans are in a state of global crisis, brought about by ocean warming, acidification, pollution, and habitat destruction. However, the biggest immediate threat to ocean life is from fisheries. Each year an estimated 1-2.7 trillion fish are caught for human consumption, though this figure does not include illegal fisheries, discarded fish, fish caught to be used as bait, or fish killed by not caught, so the real number is far higher. It is no wonder then, that today nearly 90% of the world’s marine stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted. If we do not act fast, overfishing and damaging fishing practices will soon destroy the ocean ecosystems which produce 80% of the oxygen in our atmosphere and provide three billion people with their primary source of protein.

Fish Free February, a UK-registered charity, is challenging people around the world to take action for marine life in a simple but effective way. Take the Fish Free February Pledge and drop seafood from your diet for one month, or beyond. Fish Free February wants to get people talking about the wide range of issues associated with industrial fishing practices and putting the well-being of our oceans at the forefront of dietary decision-making. A third of all wild-caught fish are used to create feed for livestock, so Fish Free February urges us to opt for plant-based dishes as a sustainable alternative to seafood, sharing our best fish-free recipes on social media with #FishFreeFebruary and nominating our friends to do the same.

“Not all fishing practices are bad” explains Simon Hilbourne, founder of Fish Free February. “Well-managed, small-scale fisheries that use selective fishing gears can be sustainable. However, most of the seafood in our diet comes from industrial fisheries which often prioritise profit over the well-being of our planet, resulting in multiple environmental challenges. In some cases, the fishing industry has even been linked to serious human rights issues such as forced labour and human trafficking! Fish Free February hopes to shed more light on fishing practices, create wider discussion around these issues, and offer solutions to benefit people, wildlife, and the natural environment.”

To learn more about these issues and to take the Fish Free February pledge visit www.fishfreefebruary.com

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