Steve Traviss, director at a waste and recycling company based in Newcastle embarked on the “whale” sized task of a Guinness World Record attempt with hundreds of other divers participating in an underwater rubbish cleanup.
Anyone travelling to the land of smiles will be blown away by the vibrant sunsets along the coast. Over the years however, the pristine beaches have become peppered with broken down plastic rubbish that has found its way into the sea (to the annoyance of locals and tourists).
The environmental conservation group Go Green Active decided to take action and worked together with the tourist authority of Thailand (TAT) to organise a monumental cleanup just off the coast of Patong beach, Phuket.
Steve said that Thailand is getting better at managing its green agenda and when he learned about the conservation dive he knew he had to go and help.
“My motivation for taking part was because of my passion from my job in waste management in that I am able to make a real difference to recycling rates and sustainability.”
More than 300 qualified divers helped out in the monumental cleanup of the reefs in the Patong bay area which have been damaged due to the litter in the sea. Marine waste can block sunlight to the coral and even lead to it being vulnerable to disease, greatly putting the habitat at risk.
WasteManaged, where Mr. Traviss works, is a waste management and recycling company based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Working there allows him to find new ways to focus on his passion for environmental conservation and help reduce pollution.
“This was my personal way of doing something to make a difference, combining my PADI Master Scuba Diver qualifications and experience with doing something tangible to help the cause in Thailand.”
On Saturday, 19 November, Steve joined hundreds of both local Thai and foreign divers from around the world who turned up to take part in the event together in an effort to collect as much marine debris as possible. Those involved in the dive said they wanted to play a role in spreading this message to reduce marine pollution.
“The highlight of the event was seeing the real buzz and determination of the organisers and the local Thai divers to raise the profile of what is happening in the ocean.”
Local authorities and organisations got involved in support of the message. The opening ceremony was honoured by Vice Admiral Youkongkaew of the Thai navy along with other prominent members of state and notable figures involved in conservation.
“It was well supported by the Thai navy and marine units who were there to ensure the security and safety of the divers as well as keep the area clear of small boats or jet skis as they pose a real danger to divers underwater who may be surfacing. Because of their presence and their detailed briefings the event ran like clockwork.”
“The highlight of the event was seeing the real buzz and determination of the organisers and the local Thai divers to raise the profile of what is happening in the ocean. …and the after party was also good!”
Not only has this experience demonstrated unity and integration between public and private-sector organistations from multiple countries, but it shines a light on how most of the pollution around us can go unnoticed and give an inaccurate portrayal of the true scale.
By the end of the day all the rubbish that had been collected by the volunteers was then weighed at a total of over 3 tons before being taken to a waste sorting site for treatment.
“I have been diving now for 25 years, having started in the icy cold 5 degree waters of Bute in Scotland and progressing to the 30 degree water temperature of the Andaman Ocean in Thailand. I know which I like the best!”
He said the diving community in Phuket are also now doing regular beach cleans, and there is much less plastic being dumped than even 2 years ago as they have now adopted the same rules as the UK in encouraging the use of re-usable bags.