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Project AWARE welcomes new Associate Director Policy and Campaigns to its team

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Project AWARE has welcomed Ian Campbell as its new Associate Director, Policy and Campaigns.

Ian Campbell draws from 20 years’ experience in marine conservation, working in the public, private and NGO sectors. His extensive international work experience and background as marine surveyor, commercial diver, fisheries officer, and author and consultant on policy matters including the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy, have led Ian to focus, throughout his professional career, on reducing impacts of commercial fisheries, habitat protection and sustainable shark and ray tourism.

Ian comes to Project AWARE from World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) where he was leading and managing complex shark and ray conservation initiatives and projects including heading up the Pacific Shark Heritage Programme and overseeing engagements with the international fisheries bodies, global conservation agreements and development of national conservation policies. In 2014, Ian was the technical specialist for the Fiji government delegation to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), successfully adding manta and mobula rays to the Convention. This success was repeated in 2016 when mobula rays were adopted under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).

Collaborating with Project AWARE is not new to Ian Campbell. In 2017, he served as WWF’s lead for the development of the world’s first-ever guidelines for shark and ray tourism operators – Responsible Shark and Ray Tourism: A Guide to Best Practice – in partnership with Project AWARE and Manta Trust.” says Danna Moore, Project AWARE Global Operations Director. “We’re thrilled to have new opportunities to work together and build on his experience and passion for marine protection to carry forward the long-term strategic vision of Project AWARE”.

Growing up in a small fishing village in South Wales, my love of the ocean developed from an early age. I remember watching early ocean documentaries and films like Jaws which led me to study Marine Biology at university. I am very lucky to have had a career which has covered a wide range of marine issues, from fisheries, habitat protection and of course, sharks and ray issues.” says Ian Campbell. “After 20 years of working across the spectrum of marine conservation roles, I’m excited to join the Project AWARE team and its global community of ocean enthusiasts to drive the organisation’s overall policy work and conservation outcomes”.

Ian joins the Project AWARE global team working to empower a movement of ocean adventurers to take action for a return to a clean, healthy ocean. As Associate Director of Policy and Campaigns, Ian leads Project AWARE’s development and implementation of key strategic conservation projects and initiatives with a view to influencing policy developments at the local, national and global levels.

For more information about Project AWARE visit their website by clicking here.

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Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap

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The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.

Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.

Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers by A. Tareg

That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.

Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”

Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.

“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.

The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.

Manta ray, Manta birostris, gliding over a cleaning station in M’il Channel, Yap, Micronesia by David Fleetham

Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”

“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi.  The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”

“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”

Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!

For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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