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PADI divers prepare for Phuket’s biggest coral reef cleanup

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PHUKET: Nine dive boats and almost 20 PADI dive shops with the guidance of PADI Project AWARE have put aside their differences and on Tuesday, at the group’s third meeting, announced the date for what they hope will be the largest coral reef cleanup in Phuket.

The project, part of the group’s start-up “Go Eco Phuket“, aims to set “cleanup records” this year as it brings hundreds of divers out to Koh Racha Yai and Koh Racha Noi on September 30.

In response to the skeptical questions of what difference coral reef cleanups really make, outside of raising public awareness and educating people of the importance of coral reefs, Michael Wallentin, a prominent member of the Phuket dive community, pointed out: “Every piece makes a difference. Maybe it only helps a fraction, but it helps.”

Tony Andrews, Thailand’s west coast PADI Project AWARE regional manager, offered to brief all members in the next meeting on properly using “Dive Against Debris Data cards”.

The information collected on the cards will be sent to marine biologists and officials based in Bangkok to present a better picture of what kind of debris is being found in the reef systems, so programs can be established to target specific issues.

Guenter Hormann, another prominent member of the dive community, made it clear that the dive companies needed to get as many people involved in the project as possible.

“We need to separate ourselves from the scum that is sometimes associated with Phuket. This is not about us making money; it’s about cleaning up the reefs and making a difference,” he said.

“It’s fundamental to the project for everyone to come together at the end of the cleanup and arrive in Phuket as a single, united group. All the boats will be flying the same flags and banners,” explained Mr Andrews.

Mr Wallentin plainly stated his goal: “Let’s make Phuket the cleanest island in Southeast Asia.”

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

 

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