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Volunteers Have Removed 1 Million Items Of Trash From The Ocean

Project AWARE’s “Dive Against Debris” effort has reached a pretty significant milestone: the removal of a million items of trash from the ocean.

“Dive Against Debris” is a global citizen science survey launched in 2011 in which scuba divers around the world remove and report marine litter. Since then, 49,188 divers from 114 countries have helped both to clean up the ocean and build evidence to shine a light on the global marine litter crisis.

Recreational and professional divers retrieved objects varying from sunbeds to batteries and shoes, as well as vast quantities of plastic bags, cutlery and bottles. The data collected captures essential information for scientists to estimate debris that has sunk to the seafloor. It also supports work to find solutions to save vulnerable marine life and ensure the future of a clean and healthy ocean.

Scientists estimate some 20 million tons of plastic waste could enter the ocean every year. 2017 saw the United Nations and national governments step up efforts to eliminate plastic waste. The European Commission for example recently adopted the first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics, part of the transition towards a more circular economy to keep plastics and their value in the economy, avoid waste and reduce marine litter.

Not only that, just last month, scientists reported that the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” had grown to three times the size of France.

Volunteers involved in “Dive Against Debris” have provided data which is helping convince decision-makers to adopt more stringent policies on plastics. Almost 70 percent of all items reported through Dive Against Debris were plastics. In December 2017, the Vanuatu government announced a ban on the import and local manufacturing of non-biodegradable plastics, based on studies done by environmental groups including local dive center Big Blue.

Regarding the “Dive Against Debris” effort’s new milestone, Project AWARE Director Danna Moore said:

“Divers dive because they have a deep love for the ocean and the life it supports. They are, more than any of us, confronted daily with the damage that human activity is having on marine life. We have an army of activists out there working to change things, and we salute every one of them on this amazing achievement.”

Moore is urging more divers to get involved and calling on governments and industry to act urgently to adopt measures to reduce plastic waste and penalize ocean polluters. To that end, Project AWARE is asking divers to remove and report one million more pieces of rubbish by end of 2020 and help highlight the true extent of the marine debris problem.

For more info, check out the Project AWARE website.

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.