Known as the green heart of Borneo, Brunei is fast becoming also known for its stunning blue seas and underwater treasures! A truly unspoilt gem, Brunei recently hosted its first PADI Instructor Exam with fantastic results! From the 15-16th of February this year, 11 candidates partook in both written exams and confined water evaluations conducted by PADI Instructor Examiner, Rommy Heung, who flew in specifically from Hong Kong to direct the program.
Beginning with the written exams and confined water evaluations, which were held at the Mentiri Civil Service Centre in Brunei, candidates then travelled by speedboat to Pelong Rock Island to complete the Open Water presentations. Pelong Rock is well known for its great reef diving, offering varied coral formations to explore and various Japanese shipwrecks can be found around the island.
With all 11 candidates successfully certified, the program was a huge success and was followed with a dinner and award ceremony hosted by PADI Dive Centre, Poni Divers and Seamonkey Dive Centre Malaysia – a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre. In attendance were Brunei government officials, including Guest of Honour, YB Pehin Yahya, Minister of Industry & Primary Resources, Haji Halidi, Acting Director of the Fisheries Department, Faten Shahrani, Project Officer at Brunei Tourism and Major Rudy Halyarmin, Ministry of Defence.
Among the 11 participants were Afiq Whalid and Suhaimi HJ Taja, who are now officially the first locally-certified Bruneian PADI Instructors. Afiq was overwhelmed by the support of PADI, Poni Divers and Sea Monkey Malaysia for making this dream a reality, “it was an unforgettable experience, and I’m proud to be one of the first Bruneian’s to do an IE here in Brunei.” Maclen Torres will also be the first Philippine national certified as PADI Instructor in Brunei.
Course Directors Arnold Yap and Thien X Do were congratulated by PADI for their efforts and contribution to making the first PADI Instructor Exam in Brunei a triumphant achievement. “I feel honoured being the first PADI Course Director to conduct the first ever IDC in the Sultanate”, said Yap. “The local Bruneian’s certainly made us all very welcome and have shown us excellent hospitality throughout the entire IDC and IE. Having created history by conducting the first IDC in Brunei, we are now planning about 2-3 Instructor Exams in Brunei every year as the diving industry becomes more and more popular amongst locals. The dive sites are great with the main attraction being the ample wrecks in the local waters, and I am looking forward to coming back towards the end of the year to conduct another IDC here.”
With 4500 hectares of coral reef and coastline Brunei is a true oasis for diving. From wreck diving to shark sightings, sheer underwater cliffs, oil rig dives and a vast and varied array of corals, Brunei has something for every diver. The water is warm, the marine life tantalising and the abundant wrecks shrouded with enough mystery to tweak any curious soul. Brunei is one off the beaten track destination to add to your dive list.
Find out more about becoming a PADI Instructor here.
The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support
With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.
The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.
Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.
The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.
“While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”
There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.
This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.
Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.”
Jeff chats to… Craig Waller, Underwater Lighting Technician on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Watch Video)
In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Craig Waller, Underwater Lighting Technician on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Craig is a Key Grip and Lighting Director with 10,000s of hours of Set Experience.
In Craig’s own words:
I started my career when I was in my first year of college. I always had that creative side of the brain that needed to be followed as a career. I thought that would be in designing engineering pieces but wasn’t happy about the idea of an office cubicle and drafting table.
I accidentally found my way onto a big commercial job for a week and decided “THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO”. I made it my career after that. This is a quick list of recent and big projects in my 35 yrs of TV / Film / Photography.
- “Black Panther 2” – UW Lighting Technician / 2nd Unit Underwater Team
- “Stranger Things” Season 4 – UW Lighting Technician / 2nd Unit Underwater Team
- “Suicide Squad 2” – UW Gaffer / 2nd Unit Underwater Team
- NASCAR / FOX Sports 1 – Network TV Lighting Director – 7 years / 700 races of Live BIG track TV shows
- 10,000s of commercials / music videos / tv shows
I started diving when I was 18 years old with my OW and then AOW with PADI. I was diving with lots of friends in the late 80s and early 90s and then moved onto Kayaking. I got my daughter into diving when she turned 14 and have picked up where I left off.
I have approx 5000 dives now and spend most of my free time diving.
Here are my certs:
- OW – AOW 1989
- Adv Nitrox / Deco 2020
- Cavern – Intro Cave 2021
- CCR Tech – Fathom – 2021
You can find out more at www.craigwaller.com
Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.
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