With Earth Day taking place tomorrow, PADI has announced verified PADI Eco Centres around the globe – the first of their kind.
Last year, PADI’s long-term partner, The Reef-World Foundation, released their study Sustainability in a Recovering Travel World, which found 95% of divers are looking for sustainable operators when booking a trip, but often struggle to book with confidence.
In response to this, PADI, with the full support of The Reef-World Foundation, has established PADI Eco Centres, a prestigious credential awarded to those who exhibit continued commitment to conservation efforts that support both the goals and objectives of the PADI Blueprint for Ocean Action and the global agenda to protect the ocean.
The PADI Eco Centre credentials designate members who exemplify environmental stewardship in their operations, with the ultimate goal is to connect ocean lovers with sustainability leaders in the dive industry through a rigorous verification that gives travelers the confidence that their tourism dollars are going to make a positive impact.
Julie Andersen, PADI’s Global Director of Brand comments: “PADI is committed to protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030, which is fueled by creating like-minded partnerships, mobilising our PADI Mission Hub Members, re-envisioning the way people travel and encouraging daily changes we all can make for a better – and healthier – planet, with PADI Eco-Centres being the catalyst for real change in the tourism sector.”
The robust PADI Eco Centre verification process is performed in conjunction with PADI’s partner The Reef-World Foundation and their United Nations Green Fins Initiative. Three sets of criteria must be achieved by PADI Members to demonstrate an exemplary level of environmental best practices above and beneath the surface.
Requiring approximately a year’s elapsed time to officially become verified, the process integrates the core values of conservation and sustainability across the entire PADI network.
PADI Eco Centres are not just advocating for positive ocean change, but they are actively leading the way forward to create a better future for our shared blue planet.
Wherever you find them, PADI Eco Centres reliably ensure that the cost of their marine adventure goes hand in hand with the protection and restoration of natural resources and the well-being of local communities.
Below are the first 11 PADI Eco Centres that have been hand-selected by PADI to represent the true ethos of the programme.
- Red Sea Diving Safaris | Egypt
With three villages along the southern Red Sea coastline in Marsa Alam, Red Sea Diving Safaris is one of Egypt’s leading environmental activists and pioneer of sustainable tourism development, offering scuba divers a chance to give back to local communities and coastlines.
- Dive Ninja Expeditions | Mexico
Marine research and conservation has always been at the heart of Dive Ninja Expeditions, who are focused on bridging the gaps between tourism, science and conservation in Baja, Mexico. From supporting the local community through a scholarship programme to conducting vital marine research, Dive Ninja Expeditions is creating opportunities for divers to connect, gain unique citizen science skillsets, and personally drive ocean change.
- Fifth Point Diving Centre | UK
Believing that every adventure can protect the ocean, Fifth Point Diving Centre offers scuba divers the chance to book eco-adventure holidays as well as empowering the younger generations of scuba divers and professionals to take the leading role in creating positive ocean change.
- Silent World | USA
Making every dive course or adventure memorable by integrating conservation efforts and minimizing crowds, Silent World in Key Largo makes saving the ocean and exploring beneath the surface stress free in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
- Excel Scuba | Spain
Located in the Canary Islands, this PADI Eco Centre is committed to protecting the beautiful coastlines and offering internship programmes to the local community so they can not only change the course of their carreer opportunities, but also educate others about the importance of conservation.
- Ceningan | Indonesia
Recognized globally as one of the most eco-friendly dive resorts, Ceningan Divers have already won numerous industry sustainability awards and are ranked amongst the top three Green Fins operators in the world and operate in the Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area.
- Sea Voice Divers | Malaysia
Sea Voice Divers is a small but mighty PADI Eco Centre in Malaysia determined to represent the voices of the ocean by keeping their dive groups small, running numerous conservation programmes and encouraging all their customers and team members to obtain their AWARE Specialist certification.
- Scuba Elite | Bonaire
Committed to supporting their community, Scuba Elite supports educating and empowering both local youths and visitors in how to protect the coastline and coral reefs that are critical to the eco-system through their PADI Reef Renewal Specialty Course.
- Evolution | Philippines
Evolution is a small owner operated PADI Eco Centre located on Malapascua Island who are committed to not only taking guests beneath the surface to explore some of the best dive sites in the world, but equally ensuring that every dive is a Dive Against Debris dive.
- Scubacao Diving Adventures | Curacao
Not only is Scubacao Diving Adventures a great place to learn to dive on holiday, but offer divers the chance to give back to our shared blue planet through offering the PADI Reef Renewsl Spcialty and providing volunteer opportunities to protect the local coral reefs.
- Oceans Unlimited, Costa Rica
Located on the Pacific Coast side of Costa Rica, Oceans Unlimited is a PADI Eco Centre that works alongside local non-profit Marine Conservation Costa Rica to run a coral restoration programme in Quepos and provide both education and outreach opportunities to locals and visitors alike.
To further encourage everyone on the planet to join PADI in creating positive ocean change, the organisation has also launched the Save the Ocean Pledge this Earth Day.
Designed to unite ocean torchbearers who share a love for the blue and a desire to protect it for generations to come, the pledge is a commitment of five actions to take regardless of where in the world you are exploring.
To sign the Save the Ocean pledge, visit padi.com/conservation/save-the-ocean-pledge
Shaping Tomorrow’s Shores: The Future of Coastal Habitat Restoration
A new partnership between World Wide Fund for Nature – Netherlands (WWF-NL) , the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and Coastal Dynamics will spearhead an initiative to define future conservation and restoration projects within Dutch Caribbean coastal habitats. Centered around mangroves and seagrass beds, this ambitious feasibility study aims to craft a portfolio of forward-looking projects. The objective is to fortify these areas against escalating threats like climate change, pollution, and unsustainable coastal development, ensuring their sustained health and resilience.
The Dutch Caribbean is home to unique island ecosystems facing challenges from overdevelopment, climate change, and other environmental pressures. Coastal ecosystems represent critically important areas, particularly in regards to their biodiversity, climate resilience, and cultural heritage. The proposed feasibility study seeks to bridge gaps in expertise, resources, and collaboration across all six of the Dutch Caribbean islands (Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Saba, St. Maarten and St. Eustatius).
The primary goal of the project is to conduct an in-depth feasibility study under the DCNA’s Conservation and Restoration of Key Habitats Program. Key components of the study include assessing the current status of mangroves and seagrass beds, stakeholder engagement, and conducting an overall resource assessment.
The study will focus on coastal area restoration, specifically targeting mangroves and seagrass beds in collaboration with Dutch Caribbean Park Organizations. The aim is to develop a nature-inclusive approach with nature-based solutions to enhance resilience and sustainability. Overall, this project has two main objectives:
- Feasibility Study: Assess the viability of conservation efforts, including technical, financial, and human resource requirements.
- Knowledge Sharing & Capacity Building: Present findings, address knowledge gaps, and build capacity among Park Organizations for effective restoration initiatives.
The feasibility study’s success is crucial for creating a comprehensive understanding of coastal habitat conditions, fostering collaboration, and laying the groundwork for future restoration programs. By unifying efforts, the study aims to enhance communication, knowledge sharing, and resource utilization across all six islands.
Header Image: Kai Wulf
Hunting Lionfish Safely and Responsibly in Curaçao
Curaçao, a picturesque island in the southern Caribbean, is not only renowned for its stunning beaches and vibrant culture but also for its commitment to preserving its marine ecosystems. One of the key threats to these delicate ecosystems is the invasive lionfish. To combat this menace, responsible hunting practices are crucial.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore how to hunt lionfish safely and responsibly in Curaçao, including the use of pole spears (the only legal method in Curaçao). We will provide you with the top 10 safe hunting practices, including the use of a Zookeeper. We will also address what to do if you are stung by a lionfish and emphasize the importance of consulting with local experts before embarking on your lionfish hunting adventure.
Why Safe and Responsible Lionfish Hunting is Important
Lionfish (Pterois spp.) are native to the Indo-Pacific region but have become invasive predators in the Caribbean, including the waters surrounding Curaçao. Their voracious appetite for native fish species and rapid reproduction rates poses a severe threat to the delicate balance of marine ecosystems in the region. The introduction of lionfish has led to a decline in native fish populations and the degradation of coral reefs.
To counteract the lionfish invasion, responsible hunting practices are essential. Hunting lionfish can help control their population and protect the native marine life of Curaçao’s waters. However, it is imperative to follow safe and responsible hunting techniques to minimize the impact on the environment and ensure the safety of both divers and the marine ecosystem.
Understanding the Pole Spear
In Curaçao, the only legal method for hunting lionfish is using a pole spear. It’s important to note that a pole spear is distinct from other spearfishing equipment, such as a Hawaiian sling or a spear gun with a trigger mechanism. The use of Hawaiian slings or spear guns with triggers is illegal in Curaçao for lionfish hunting due to safety and conservation concerns.
A pole spear consists of a long, slender pole with a pointed tip, often made of stainless steel or fiberglass, designed for precision and accuracy. Unlike a trigger-based spear gun, a pole spear requires the diver to manually draw back on a rubber band then release towards the target, providing a more controlled and selective approach to hunting.
How to Hunt Lionfish Using a Pole Spear Responsibly
When using a pole spear to hunt lionfish, it’s crucial to do so responsibly to ensure the safety of both the diver and the marine environment. Here are some essential guidelines on how to hunt lionfish using a pole spear responsibly:
- Safety First: Always prioritize safety when diving and hunting. Ensure you have the necessary training and experience for hunting lionfish. Consider the Lionfish Scuba Dive Experience offered by Ocean Encounters. This opportunity allows participants to learn under the expert guidance of local scuba diving professionals.
- Check Regulations: Familiarize yourself with local regulations and restrictions related to lionfish hunting in Curaçao. Respect no-take zones and marine protected areas.
- Target Only Lionfish: Use your pole spear exclusively for lionfish hunting. Do not attempt to spear any other species, as this can harm the fragile ecosystem.
- Aim for Precision: Approach your target lionfish carefully and aim for a precise shot to minimize the risk of injuring other marine life or damaging the coral reef.
- Use a Zookeeper: A Zookeeper is a specialized container designed to safely store and transport lionfish after capture. It prevents the lionfish’s venomous spines from causing harm and keeps them secure during the dive.
- Respect Lionfish Anatomy: Target the head of the lionfish and stay away from its venomous spines. Aim for a clean and humane kill to minimize suffering.
- Avoid Overhunting: Do not overhunt lionfish in a single dive. Limit the number of lionfish you catch to what you can safely handle and process.
- Practice Good Buoyancy: Maintain excellent buoyancy control to avoid inadvertently damaging the reef or stirring up sediment, which can harm marine life.
- Dispose Responsibly: Once you’ve caught lionfish, carefully place them in your Zookeeper. Do not release them back into the water, as they are invasive and harmful to the ecosystem.
- Report Your Catch: If applicable, report your lionfish catch to local authorities or organizations involved in lionfish management to contribute to data collection efforts.
In the Unlikely Event of a Lionfish Sting
While lionfish stings are rare, it’s essential to know how to respond if you or someone you are diving with is stung. Lionfish have venomous spines that can cause pain, swelling, and even more severe reactions in some cases. Here’s how to respond to a lionfish sting:
- Signal for Help: Notify your diving buddy or group immediately if you are stung.
- Remove Spines: If the spines are still embedded in the skin, carefully remove them with tweezers or a clean, sterile tool. Be cautious not to break the spines, as this can release more venom.
- Clean the Wound: Rinse the affected area with warm water to help alleviate pain and reduce the risk of infection.
- Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with pain and swelling. However, if you experience severe symptoms, seek medical attention promptly.
- Seek Medical Help: If the pain and swelling worsen or if you have an allergic reaction to the venom, seek medical assistance immediately.
Consult Local Lionfish Experts
Before embarking on a lionfish hunting adventure in Curaçao, it’s crucial to consult with local and responsible dive shops or organizations dedicated to lionfish management, such as Lionfish Caribbean.
These experts can provide valuable insights, tips, and up-to-date information on how to hunt lionfish safely and responsibly, hunting locations, safety measures, and environmental conservation efforts.
Start Planning your Next Caribbean Adventure
Knowing how to hunt lionfish safely and responsibly in Curaçao is not just an exciting underwater activity but also a crucial step in protecting the island’s marine ecosystems. By using a pole spear and adhering to the top 10 safe hunting practices, including the use of a Zookeeper, you can contribute to the control of the invasive lionfish population while preserving the delicate balance of Curaçao’s underwater world.
Remember that safety should always be your top priority when diving and hunting lionfish. In the unlikely event of a lionfish sting, knowing how to respond can make all the difference. By consulting with local experts and following ethical and legal guidelines, you can enjoy a rewarding and responsible lionfish hunting experience while safeguarding the beauty of Curaçao’s marine environment for generations to come. Please always dive safely and responsibly, and together, we can make a positive impact on Curaçao’s underwater world while learning how to hunt lionfish effectively.
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