Divers enlisted to help save world's oceans and seas under UN-backed project

Snorkelers and scuba divers across the globe are being enlisted to help preserve the health and diversity of the world’s oceans and seas under a new initiative supported by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

"Earthdive" urges professional and amateur divers to record findings on the marine environment – including coral reefs, mangrove swamps and coastal waters – on the initiative’s web site, thereby contributing scientific data on key indicator species to build a "global dive log."

Observations of illegal trade in endangered species are also recorded and then passed on to a wildlife trade monitoring network.

In addition, members sign an international petition demanding action to protect the oceans while half of all membership fees are donated directly to marine conservation projects.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said, "In conserving the oceans, we are not only saving a key part of the planet’s life support systems and many wonderful marine life-forms, we are also playing a key role in meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals in areas from poverty eradication to hunger reduction."

Those targets, known as MDGs, were set at a UN summit in 2000. They call, among others, for reversing the loss of environmental resources while cutting in half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and those who lack safe drinking water.

The project is supported by UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, England, which has been providing scientific assessments of biodiversity for 25 years and is one of the world’s leading centres for coral reef conservation. The Centre is providing a unique mapping service that will allow divers to pinpoint locations and log their observations, which in turn can be shared with other divers and the scientific community.

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