(MENAFN- Gulf Times) A recently-held underwater clean-up drive in the country has collected 960kg of waste, helping to protect Qatar's marine life and raising awareness on the dangers of plastic pollution. Khaled Zaki, an award-winning underwater photographer/videographer who is passionate about marine conservation, said that the initiative forms part of a global movement for marine life conservation dubbed as“Project Aware”.
Themed *Dive Against Debris, the environmental campaign urges divers to use their endeavour to help keep the oceans“free of rubbish and stop plastics from harming marine animals”.
The waste collected by the group at the diving site was composed of 192kg of metals, 480kg of plastic, and 288kg of wood, cigarette butts, clothes, and other non-recyclable items.
Zaki, a PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) master instructor with 25 years in the diving industry in the Middle East and Egypt, said that they try to keep diving sites in the country clean by collecting debris whenever is possible.
“Sometimes I do it by myself, sometimes I do it with friends, sometimes I organise campaigns every month or every three or four months,” he said, adding that they do diving almost daily as they try their best to keep the waters clean.
Zaki noted that a number of spots, however, needs special attention especially the popular and most-visited beaches.
He urged beachgoers to be more responsible by putting their trash on the right place during their stay.
He also urged visitors to reduce the use of single-use plastic as it creates a huge negative impact on marine life“because these things stay there in the waters forever”.
“During the dive, I spotted a group of small fish which keep circling around me and the group, and I can hear a voice deep inside my head saying that these fish are very happy, and they know what we are doing for them,” Zaki said.“So they were like celebrating and giving us a kind of salute for what we are doing. Let's hope for the best for our environment.”
About Project Aware, he said this global movement is powered by a community of adventurous enthusiasts who espouse marine life conservation.
According to PADI.com, it is estimated that more than 250mn tonnes of plastic will pollute the ocean by 2025 and the environmental impact caused by plastic debris alone is estimated at $13bn a year.
“Divers are often the first to witness the human impact on the marine environment and are uniquely positioned to help report, remove and advocate to stop marine debris at its source,” it added.
Zaki underlined the importance of“spreading the word” with the advent of modern technology and social media, helping to create public awareness on the importance of marine life conservation.
PADI's flagship programme, *Dive Against Debris – representing the largest underwater cleanup globally – helped“removed over 2mn pieces of debris and aided over 10,000 entangled marine animals”.
It aims to reduce marine debris by 50% in targeted countries by 2030, and among its“key actions” are engaging the“torchbearer community in citizen science”, and supporting targeted countries through community grant programme.
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