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Marine Conservation Zone in Cornwall under threat from Super Quarry

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Once again, industry seems to be flying in the face of conservation and the concerns of local people. Two companies, Shire Oak Energy and Shire Oak Quarries are trying to open a dormant quarry (Dean Quarry) which is situated on the beautiful Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. The environments in which we live throughout the world are continually being destroyed in the name of short term profit and thoughtless greed. Once again the wishes of a local parish council seem to be  being over ruled by County Council. Why are large companies allowed to over rule the wishes of local people and why is the time and money used in setting up protected areas wasted so easily? As we progress into the 21st century I always hope we can learn from past mistakes and protect precious environments that make our own living spaces so special. So often I am proved entirely wrong.

If you would like to help stop this destructive development then get involved and let your voice be heard.

I contacted Jo from Porthkerris Divers who operate in the area to ask her about the project. This is her reply:

The story so far….

Director (and majority share holder) of Shire Oak Energy and Shire Oak Quarries, Mark Shorrock, is also director (and shareholder) of several companies linked to the Quarry (Tidal Lagoon Power, Dean Quarry Mineral Rights, Tidal Lagoon Swansea etc). They propose to excavate 1.5 million tonnes in the first year alone, although figures are forever changing. Previous quarrying at its maximum was no more than 200,000 tonnes a year. The quarry has been dormant since 2008. The stone is to be used to build the proposed tidal lagoon in Swansea and possibly others, should permission be granted to build them, ironically in the name of “green energy” (“energy which is produced in a way that PROTECTS our natural environment”)!!

The company, Shire Oak Quarries has already submitted a land based planning application (security fencing, explosives store, buildings etc.). Although it was turned down by the Local Parish Council, it was approved by Cornwall Council.

The next step is that the company Shire Oak Energy are soon going to submit an application to build a 535m long 50m wide breakwater and jetties within the Manacles Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) which borders the old quarry, so that they can load 10,000 tonne barges 24/7.

quarry 3

Many people and organisations have huge concerns about this project and particularly the breakwater and jetties within the actual MCZ. The quarry is only a few hundred meters from houses and the local primary school in the village of St Keverne. We have been told by Mark Shorrock – in a public meeting on 30th January in front of a village hall packed with worried locals – that if he didn’t get the permission for his breakwater and jetties that he would drive all the stone out through the village in lorries, past the primary school, houses, popular tourist attractions etc. For the amount of stone that they are wanting to extract a year, that would mean several hundred lorries a week.

The Manacles MCZ, where they want to build the breakwater, is renowned for its fast flowing tidal currents and clear waters, supporting an amazing range of marine life – jewel anemones, sea fans, mearl beds, plumose anemones, spiny lobster, etc. It is a perfect, protected breeding ground for many types of fish. The manacles MCZ is also an important area for marine mammals and the internationally protected basking shark, which are highly sensitive to noise. How will blasting, loading of the 10,000 tonne barges 24 hours a day etc. affect them? What effect will the breakwater have on currents and sediment transport processes? What effects will the day-to-day operations have on redistribution of sediments? The proposal is to bring in several 10,000 ton barges per week, which will have to be moved by tug boats. We would question how the propeller action of the tugs will interact with tidal and wave action to redistribute the sediment around the manacles MCZ.

The Manacles is also an extremely treacherous shipping area (hence the large number of shipwrecks in the area). Navigating the inner manacles with 2 tugs guiding a 10,000 tonne barge laden with rock armour several times a week, is surely an accident waiting to happen.

And talking of Ship wecks, the position of the actual breakwater is right on the site of a famous shipwreck called “The John”, which went down in 1855 with a loss of 194 lives (There is a whole website dedicated to it which you can find here). Not far from the breakwater also lies the famous shipwrecks ‘The Mohegan’, The ‘Andola’ and ‘The Spiridian Vagliano’ and the war ship ‘The Primrose’.

It is essential that the few areas of relatively pristine marine habitat we have left remain properly protected. Many conservation organisations and leading academics are already very concerned about the government’s failure to deliver the full network of MCZs that were recommended by the scientific community. The Manacles MCZ is one of only 27, out of 120 proposed. Luckily there are now calls for more to be designated… but it is important that we are able to also protect the ones already in place; otherwise, what is the point?

The proposed development of a breakwater and general up-scaling of operations at Dean quarry is therefore not only the first real test of what it means to be a MCZ, but will also be under intense scrutiny from conservation groups and the marine science community. The manacles MCZ looks set to serve as an important test case. This is the first major challenge to a MCZ and could set a precedent for the others.

Cuckoo wrasse male & sea fans etc, Manacles 1

So many people are very concerned about the proposed development and how it could negatively affect lives and livelihoods, health, safety, the environment, the AONB, SW coast path etc etc, but unfortunately a lot of people are not aware of the impacts on life under the sea. Now would be a great time to raise awareness of this particular issue, so that when this next application is made, people will have a better understanding of what is at stake.

The first stages of the plans have been covered by the following publications:

Daily Telegraph:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/11412996/Cornish-villagers-fear-devastation-over-quarry-for-green-energy-scheme.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/11547082/Will-Welsh-eels-scupper-the-craziest-green-project-ever.html

Daily Mail:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-3041005/CHRISTOPHER-BOOKER-1-billion-lagoon-Britain-s-pottiest-green-scheme.html#comments

Others:

https://www.google.co.uk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=dean+quarry&tbm=nws

For more information, visit www.cads2015.com, or find the ‘Community Against Dean Superquarry’ on Facebook. For Marine Management Organisation plan documents, downloadfrom: https://marinelicensing.marinemanagement.org.uk/mmo/fox

Jeff Goodman is the Conservation editor and also the Underwater Videography Editor for Scubaverse.com. Jeff is an award winning TV wildlife and underwater cameraman and film maker. With over 10,000 dives to his credit he has dived in many different environments around the world.

Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 3

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Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy as we publish part 3 in his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Today was planned to be our first day of open water diving in the Red Sea on the Roots’ House Reef. The Dive Centre and the House Reef are literally a 5-minute walk from the camp.  If some beneficiaries are unable to make the walk then transport is provided.

All your kit, weights, cylinders etc are laid out ready for you to assemble your kit.

For those who use wheelchairs there is a paving stone pathway from the dive centre to the entry point for the reef. This, as with the provision of four fully accessible rooms in the resort, was built by Steve Rattle and his team to meet Deptherapy’s needs and to make the resort and reef accessible to all divers with disabilities.

A point here: in many Adaptive Teaching/Disabled Diving Manuals it is suggested that dive centres might wish to purchase a beach wheelchair.  To justify the cost, you would need a considerable number of disabled clients who were unable to walk to the ocean entry point as they cost circa £3000.  Using an individual’s wheelchair across sandy beaches is difficult and not a good idea. Many wheelchairs, such as Corey’s, cost thousands of pounds and getting sand/grit in the bearings can result in costly repairs.  So, at Roots the staff have adapted and overcome the challenge, with the beach wheelbarrow.  A foam pad is placed in the bottom and a towel draped over it.  It is effective and allows divers like Corey to be taken to the beach, the wheelbarrow is pushed into shallow water and the diver either gets out of the transport himself or is lifted out by the Roots team.  Everyone finds it a lot of fun!

Your transport awaits!

Working with those with life-changing mental and/or physical challenges does require careful risk management, not just in the general risk models for groups of divers but individual risk assessments.

On the Deptherapy Education Professionals’ Course and adopted in all our programmes is the ‘Three Tick Model’. Before taking an individual diving, each of the following must be ticked off:

  • Doctor certifies student fit to dive
  • Student signs assumption of Liability and Risks
  • Instructor is happy given the medical information to instruct the student.

As an Instructor, or as a dive centre owner you may wish to check that your insurance covers you for working with those with severe disabilities.

The instructor will meet with the student and complete a personalised risk assessment and will review whether there have been any changes in the student’s physical or mental health since their consultation with their doctor (in our case an AMED or Dive Referee).  They will also check that the medication or its daily dosage has not changed.

In terms of those with severe challenges, an AMED or a Dive Referee may require full disclosure of medical records before making a decision.  For Deptherapy we also reserve the right to refer a final decision to our two medical advisors, Dr Mark Downs or Dr Oli Firth, both of whom have considerable experience in dive medicine.

At the end of Day 1 the team were happy for Keiron to move forward; he is a strong, fit man and a capable diver who gives 100%.  Corey is an amazing guy and was very quickly embraced as a member of the Deptherapy ‘family’. But sometimes there has to be tough love and in Deptherapy we are always very open with our beneficiaries.  Some reach a level of certification beyond which they cannot progress.  For Corey there was a serious discussion with the teaching team. He had completed his skills in the pool and met the standard required BUT none of us, especially me, had any confidence that he was the standard to be an Open Water Diver.  A hard message to give to a young man who already had a certification card that said he was an Open Water Diver.  He had either not been taught properly and certified without having met the required standards or he had forgotten all he had learned.  My view is he is a bright young man and that the former reason must be correct.

Corey, Keiron and Swars between confined dives by the Roots pool

The RAID definition of mastery:

When a student/learner can comfortably demonstrate proficiency and competence, when completing an entire motor skill including all the components of the skill in a manner that demonstrates minimal stress or hesitation.’

Each mainstream diving training agency defines mastery in similar terms. It was not Corey’s ability to do the skills, it was his ability to ‘dive’ that concerned us.

If weather conditions are right, the Roots House Reef meets the requirements for a ‘confined environment’ and on Day 3 it did.

Entry to the reef is through a channel and it goes from extremely shallow to 3-5 metres.  There is a rope that allows a diver to control their descent and for use at the end of a dive if the current is running.

Most instructors will have seen nervous divers who say they have ear issues, not at a depth when there is any noticeable change in pressure, and those who continually fidget with their masks and other kit in an attempt to avoid descent. Corey displayed these traits.

We made the decision to move to the open water as it would give Corey more of an opportunity to get himself in a horizontal position rather than the upright position we saw in the pool.  We struggled to get him down the line and into the sea.  Eventually after much hard work we got there.  He maintained the upright position and was using tiny arm and hand movements to propel himself forward.  His buoyancy was poor.  We decided to end this session and return to the pool.

A note here on trim and posture in the water for both amputees and those with paraplegia.  When working with a leg amputee, especially a bilateral amputee, their balance at the surface is often poor, they tip forward, backwards and from side to side. This is often to do with weighting but also the fact that they do not have legs to weigh them down or to balance them.  They also are often unaware of where their stumps (the term for the part of the limb remaining) are, and their stumps come up at right angles to their body.  We have exercises to make amputees aware of this.

Those with paraplegia adopt a different stance, often they are upright in the water and their legs trail down, even when in trim their legs hang below the rest of their body.  The team needs to ensure that the diver is properly weighted and that the horizontal position in the water in reinforced.  Spatial awareness also needs to be created in the diver so that their legs and feet do not drag along the bottom or come into contact with coral.  They need to become aware of where their legs and feet are in the water.

This was very hard for Corey and I was quite honest that he needed to improve considerably and learn to dive properly before I would allow him to move forward. He was gutted but up for the challenge, and what we saw over the next few days was a man committed to succeed!

Michael and Keiron

So back to the pool with Oatsie and Michael. We went through all the skills for RAID OW20 twice and focussed on buoyancy, performing the skills neutrally buoyant, getting Corey in trim and teaching him how to swim underwater without the use of his legs.  It is a pity that Chris Middleton, one of our divemasters and a bilateral amputee had to miss the expedition because of wisdom tooth surgery. Chris is a role model of how to swim underwater without the use of your legs.

Although I, all our Instructors and our DMs/TDMs can demonstrate how to swim underwater, not using your legs and using a modified free diving stroke, it is far better for someone with no legs or no use of their legs to demonstrate the skill.

By the end of the day Corey had progressed substantially and the Red Sea awaited him on Day 4.

Keiron had progressed well with his instructor Moudi and Swars and was getting added value with extra work on advanced buoyancy and SMB and DSMB deployment.

Tomorrow I will talk a little more about our TDMs; we expect very high standards from them.  Michael and the two Toms have over 100 dives each. Michael dived with us in Chuuk Lagoon and both Toms have been on Red Sea liveaboards. We look for them to go beyond DM level and to progress to Instructor level.  Swars had delayed the start of his DM programme, initially because of work and then COVID. He impressed, and here again, veterans have some advantages as they are used to briefings and therefore when you give them a model for a briefing they can quickly pull a high quality briefing together.

RAID Skill Briefing Checklist and OW20 slates

Throughout the week I found the RAID skills briefing slate excellent for the TDMs and the plastic skills slates are a great aide memoire for the whole team.


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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Marine Life & Conservation

Join Reef-World’s sustainability webinar at the first ever Scuba.Digital

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Join Reef-World and a panel of industry experts at the first ever Scuba.Digital for an open discussion on green tourism and how this might be shaped by a post-corona world.

 The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – is pleased to invite its supporters to its Sustainable Diving event on the main stage of Scuba.Digital 2020 (3pm BST on Friday 23 October 2020). At this virtual Q&A, members of the public will hear from industry leaders about the steps they’re taking towards sustainability, particularly in light of the current pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed plans and caused uncertainty across the dive industry: not least when it comes to sustainability. It has also led to a surge in the volume of plastic waste – particularly from single-use and hard-to-recycle products – with masks and gloves being found washed up on beaches. So, what now for green tourism? In this session, attendees will discover the unexpected environmental challenges that have been caused by the pandemic, how sustainability leaders are overcoming those obstacles and the simple changes YOU can make to protect coral reefs for future generations.

Reef-World and the United Nations Environment Programme will host a lively virtual discussion with PADI, Explorer Ventures Liveaboard Fleet, Scuba.Digital, Paralenz, ZuBlu and Bubbles Dive Centre. Together, they will talk about how the sustainability of the diving industry has been impacted by Covid-19 and predictions for the future of green tourism. Attendees will learn:

  • Why is coral so important and how they can be protected through sustainable diving practices
  • What sustainability leaders across the industry are doing to protect coral reefs
  • And how they’ve adjusted their plans in light of the current pandemic
  • What the future of sustainable tourism might look like, according to the expert panel
  • & the simple changes YOU can make to protect coral reefs for future generations.

The panel discussion will be available to watch on the Scuba.Digital main stage at 3-3.30pm and 4-4.30pm BST (with a short break in between the two sessions) on Friday 23 October 2020. Attendees will be able to submit their own questions to the panel too.

Chloe Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “Reef-World’s sustainable diving events have been gaining momentum in previous years so we’re delighted to be able to host this exciting panel event despite current travel restrictions. While the pandemic is causing challenges across the industry, it also offers the opportunity for us to pause, regroup and plan to build back better with a more sustainable tourism industry. We must act now to protect our coral reefs – the very asset upon which our industry depends – and we must work together. So, we’re thrilled to be shining a light on the future of sustainability and help both recreational and professional divers around the world understand how they can support the cause.”

Natalie Harms, Marine Litter Focal Point, COBSEA Secretariat, UNEP – who will be chairing the event – said: “This crisis is hitting marine tourism and the people who depend on it hard. It has showed us once more that our health and the health of our ecosystems are inextricably linked. There is no silver lining for nature – now more than ever the diving community can lead by example and join hands for a sound environmental response to the crisis.”

The 2020 panel represent a range of companies who are innovating when it comes to sustainability:

Reef-World – the leader in marine tourism sustainability – aims to make sustainable diving and snorkelling the social norm.

The UN Environment Programme – the leading authority setting the global environmental agenda, which provides technical advice, support and funding for Reef-World’s Green Fins programme

Scuba.Digital – run by the team at ScubaClick Ltd – was created to help the diving industry network, collaborate and innovate in a way that won’t be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

PADI – The world’s largest diving organisation made a proclamation for the planet in 2019: shifting its brand tagline to “Seek Adventure. Save the Ocean” in order to expand its mission to include a deeper commitment to taking action to protect people and planet.

Explorer Ventures Liveaboard Fleet – is enhancing environmental operations through a customised management strategy, starting with its Caribbean vessels. It is also helping The Reef-World Foundation establish targeted liveaboard protocols as part of the Green Fins initiative with the hope of improving dive operator and liveaboard policies worldwide.

ZuBlu – is a travel platform helping scuba divers and marine enthusiasts discover and book their next underwater adventure in Asia

Paralenz – has developed a camera that enable divers to capture and share the state and life of the Ocean as a seamless part of the dive

Bubbles Dive Centre – in Pulau Perhentian, Malaysia, is one of the global Top 10 Green Fins members.

This online panel event is relevant to representatives from all segments of the diving industry: recreational divers, dive professionals, dive operators, liveaboards, resorts, travel providers, diver training organisations, manufacturers, photographers, the media and more.

Jason Haiselden, Marketing & Sales Director at ScubaClick Ltd and Scuba.Digital, said: “It is great that Reef-World has grabbed the opportunity that Scuba.Digital presents to tell the industry and the diving and snorkelling public how they can make what we do more sustainable. Covid is forcing change upon us so why not take the opportunity to make sustainable changes.”

For more information, please visit www.reef-world.org / www.greenfins.net or come and meet The Reef-World Foundation team at Scuba.Digital.

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