Opinion: ATUS protecting the dive industry

Ratanaporn Promchoo, 35, is the president secretary of the Association of Thailand for Underwater Sports (ATUS) and has been working with the ATUS for ten years. She graduated from Rajabhat Nakhon Sri Thammarat University with a bachelor’s degree in science.

Here she talks about what the ATUS does to help promote and protect the dive industry.

PHUKET: ATUS was founded in December 2004 and registered as an official association in Thailand in March 2005.

We are the national diving association of Thailand and are internationally recognized as a voting member of the world underwater federation CMAS (Confederation Mondiale des Activites Subaquatiques). We also work under the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT).

There are three main responsibilities of the ATUS: to control and maintain CMAS standards throughout the industry; to conserve our marine natural resources; and to promote water sports throughout the country.

We have committees that take care of each responsibility and work with the relevant authorities involved; some of these include monitoring CMAS diving standards, training, diving techniques, diving equipment and so on.

As far as conservation goes, we step in to help as a member or committee for relevant authorities, such as the national parks or the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Sometimes, we even get together with our members and non-members to do social work, such as diving to pick up trash, placing artificial coral reefs or educating locals and students on how to conserve nature.

For the SAT, we work as a whole by helping to promote water sports; training coaches, athletes and referees; and helping to expand knowledge of water sports by sending our coaches to train others.
Our goal is to see Phuket as the first place people think of when talking or thinking about diving, not only in Thailand, but throughout the world.

However, this is not something that can happen overnight, as there are still some people out there who do not think about the nature of the business, but only the money.

In the last two years, we have seen an increase in the number of diving industry businesses. However, we have also seen an increase in the number of deaths, accidents and damage to our natural resources. All of these things give the industry a bad image.

So, we’ve stepped in to talk with tour operators and relevant government officials to help solve these issues. Our target is to maintain safe, sustainable diving spots in Thailand, to see the preservation of our natural resources, and to see that all divers and dive companies follow safety standards.

In general, we also help coordinate between the diving industry and government authorities when the two parties have an issue. In this regard, we fulfill the role of a middleman. The hope is that eventually we will all join hands and go in the same direction together.

Once nature is destroyed, nothing can be accomplished by regretting our actions as we cannot take it back when it’s done. That is why we must do our best to prevent future problems. Other agencies help us in this effort. For example, PADI always informs us when they have a meeting. This way, we can help each other improve the industry.

However, most importantly, I want people to stop seeing the dive industry as a business and start seeing it for the beautiful experience under the sea that it is. It’s a bonding experience with old friends, and a wonderful way to meet new friends along the way.

If we think about it this way, it doesn’t seem all that difficult to preserve nature, so that generations to come can enjoy the same experience.

— Chutharat Plerin


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