Project AWARE. One Million More: A Return to a Clean Ocean

Project AWARE is a movement of ocean adventurers working towards a clean, healthy ocean. This year, we hit a major milestone by removing and reporting one million pieces of marine debris from the seafloor through our network of scuba diving volunteers, involving over 49,188 community members in over 114 countries. We are committed to remove one million more items of debris by the end of 2020 – doing in a little over two years what we accomplished in seven. We need to scale our keystone program, Dive Against Debris®, which has enabled us to reach our first million items of debris. This data help to:

1. Share the marine impacts of land based sources of pollution through data collection and reporting to help influence policy

2. Reduce the amount of pollution in the ocean

3. Save marine life from the effects of pollution

The Problem

Pollution is the one of the overarching stressors currently impacting the health of the ocean with marine debris serving as one of the biggest sources of pollution. 80% of marine debris is thought to originate from land-based sources and of the total debris entering the ocean, plastics account for three quarters.

Everyday trash is entering the sea at an alarming rate. More than 250 million tons of plastic are estimated to make its way into our ocean by 2025. Marine debris is not only unsightly, it’s dangerous to sea life, hazardous to human health, and costly to our economies. Marine animals become entangled in debris, and even mistake it for food - often with fatal results. Over 800 different species are believed to have been impacted by marine debris through ingestion or entanglement. Divers, swimmers and beach goers can be directly harmed by encounters with marine debris or its toxins. The environmental damage caused by plastic debris alone is estimated at US$13 billion per year.

It is difficult to clean ocean waste, not only because it is found throughout multiple parts of the ocean, but also because of the possible disruption to marine life. Most of the time, the debris is under the surface, making it impossible to see. However, there’s debris all the way from the ocean’s surface to the sea floor. This makes it difficult to clean unless you have the proper training and equipment.

The Solution

Dive Against Debris® empowers scuba divers around the globe to remove marine debris from the ocean and report data on the types, quantities and locations of debris collected. As the only underwater debris data collection program of its kind, Dive Against Debris both improves the health of ocean ecosystems through localized volunteer efforts.

Project AWARE’s Adopt a Dive Site recognizes leaders taking action through the Dive Against Debris program, empowering citizens to protect their local dive sites. Supporting our most dedicated dive leaders, committed to monthly Dive Against Debris surveys, reporting types and quantities of marine debris found underwater each month from the same location.

To reach our goal of one million more by 2020, we seek to:

  1. Increase the number of Dive Against Debris surveys submitted by 50%.
  2. Increase number of Adopt a Dive Sites reporting monthly data by 30% with a targeted increase in sites overall.

Project AWARE is the most effective when we engage our community in-person, in the field. This allows us to garner critical stakeholder feedback, train and educate volunteers and ensure investment through personal relationship building. Through increased and improved community engagement we will recruit and support additional Adopt a Dive Site leaders and Dive Against Debris volunteers to remove 1 million more items of debris from the seafloor by the end of 2020 not only working towards our vision of a clean and healthy ocean but provides valuable information about underwater debris to help inform policy change.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

Project AWARE

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