Considering how important the marine environment is to divers, the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association has written to the U.S. government in support of marine sanctuaries, stressing their importance for the diving industry.
In late June U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order, later published in the Federal register on June 26, 2017, that authorises the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to undertake a review of the National Marine Sanctuaries and National Marine Monuments that have been established over the last 10 years.
In his letter to NOAA, DEMA President and CEO Tom Ingram stated:
“Scuba divers and snorkelers are stewards of an environment that is unique, and upon which they depend for recreation and study. Today, all scuba divers are educated to maintain proper buoyancy and body-positioning while diving to help prevent accidental damage to natural marine and other aquatic resources.”
DEMA made several proposals in its letter to NOAA; they include but are not limited to the following:
- Non-destructive activities like scuba diving and snorkelling should be allowed to continue.
- Sanctuaries should include research areas that are designated as no take areas.
- Proper scientific methods should be used to establish rules and regulations regarding fishing and other activities that consume resources.
- All stakeholders should be consulted and have their views heard before reaching a conclusion.
- Fishing activities and disputes should remain under the auspices of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.
DEMA urged NOAA to consider the positives of National Marine Sanctuaries and National Marine Monuments. While it understood there is a need for a review, DEMA argued:
“The Diving Industry hopes that such a review will result in a clearer understanding of the need for on-going scientific analysis of natural and cultural resources in these designated areas, as well as the need for UTILISING the established administrative procedures for creating such a Sanctuary”
Ingram further added:
“DEMA and the Diving Industry support such a review so that these areas remain accessible for non-consumptive activities such as scuba diving and snorkelling.”
In the letter, Ingram stressed the importance of marine sanctuaries and the vital role they play in sustaining a healthy and profitable scuba diving and snorkelling sector. He stressed that efforts are undertaken by members of the diving community to protect and preserve the marine environment.
You can read the full text of the DEMA letter here.