Here ISE Partner Brad Roberston, a native Australian living in Mallorca, a conservationist, environmentalist and well known advocate for the oceans gives some inside view to his projects and ideas and explains how YOU can become an active part of this endeavor.
Brads´organisation "www.asociacionondine.org" is ISE´s Partner for 2013 and will receive 100% of all Donations.
As divers we have the ability to enjoy many different and exciting ecosystems, but simply looking and enjoying is not enough these days. Gone are the days when Jaques Cousteau dived into the Mediterranean and was amazed by the variety of life, the majority of marine life in the Mediterranean has now disappeared due to overfishing, human development and pollution. This sad fact is not restricted to the Mediterranean, it is a world wide problem. Hence understanding, protecting and even improving local marine ecosystems should be on the top of every divers To Do list.
Ultimately YOU are responsible for the health of our Sea´s and Ocean´s.
As a diver, as a consumer and as a human being with a conscience. As a diver you receive many pleasures from enjoying time underwater such us photography, encounters with majestic whales and impressive sharks. Imagine the pleasures you would enjoy if you were involved in preserving and improving your local marine ecosystems. Don’t wait for governments to do anything. It is up to us, the worldwide diving community to get involved and make a difference.
Preserving our local marine ecosystems is beneficial to local communities both economically and socially. Healthy marine environments managed in a sustainable and practical way generate millions of dollars around the world annually. In fact, should you get to the stage of working with your local government, showing them the benefits of conservation in a financial sense may just be the key to get them involved. Show them the money! Socially and culturally the sea has been a huge influence in many parts of the world, a healthy sea. Allowing our sea´s and oceans to die a not so slow death is adding to the decline of centuries old sustainable cultural practices and limiting the social enjoyment of the sea. A dirty, un healthy sea is not inviting for anyone.
Understanding local ecosystems – science base
We need to have dreams and ideas to begin this process of global marine conservation; we need dreams and ideas at a local level with international attention that inspire more people to take more initiatives. These dreams and ideas must have a scientific base to them otherwise they lack the clarity and direction they require as well as lacking real beneficial objectives.
The most important people you could possibly involve in any size marine research and conservation project are experienced local marine biologists, these people are imperative! You can be the best diver in the world with the best intentions in the world but without local knowledge and professional attitudes you will achieve very little in comparison.
Contact your local aquarium, local department of fisheries, local marine research facility and let them know what you have planned. If you don’t get the response you were after, then try again, you will eventually find someone who is interested in your project. With a scientific base and objectives with the best possible outcomes you will be building a base for success.
Accumulated and shared knowledge is the way forward, starting from scratch in many circumstances is time consuming and counter productive, hence, connecting with your local scientific bodies is a must to succeed at studying and conserving local marine ecosystems. Most aquariums have a conservation department, most scientific institutes have a website and contact form, the hard work is gaining respect and having people open themselves and their knowledge to you. This does take a little time. If you have the drive and the stamina it will happen.
This is the key to large scale success, we need to bridge the gap between science and the community, we need to make science fun, interesting and most of all available to the masses. Involving volunteer divers in your projects will get people like you and me right in amongst the scientists as they work. Beginning the process of a larger understanding of science, which really is just understanding nature in detail.
Establish a solid team
Like every great team, we need individuals to fulfill certain roles, each of these roles need to function on an individual basis and on a team basis.
If you are the one with the ideas but lack experience in building a team then that is the first person you need to find, the team builder and leader.
Whoever leads your projects needs a great ability to find the right people for the job.
Once your team has been established you will need to ensure it runs like the well oiled machine it is, this can only be done with great leadership, motivation and genuine interest in each individuals role as well as the larger objectives of the project. If you are genuinely interested in the subject you will surprise yourself with your ability to lead!!!
Open & clear communication will allow your team to evolve, work more productively and be creative with ideas. Being able to communicate in a way that is not offensive and allows people to clearly express themselves is a great place to start.
This is something that should be clear from the beginning, particularly when you are starting out with local projects. Beginning with a project that has a foreseeable end and foreseeable success is a great way to build your foundations. Having achievable goals ensures your success which in turn will increase your credibility and chances of success in the future.
As discussed above, talking to local scientists will give you a clear idea of what needs addressing in your local area. Dive centers are also a good source of local information.
Now you have your objectives you will need a plan of action. If you have successfully built a solid team then delegation of respective jobs is the most productive way to get moving. Each individual has their part to play, hence allowing them to create their own plan means their own understanding of their role and the experience they have should produce a solid plan. When you have all the different aspects done you will collaborate all the plans to make your final proposal. Its pretty simple really. Breaking the whole project up into different sections allows individual input into a team production.
Don’t expect anything but hard work
This will come in time if you truly believe in what you are doing, if you do it in a positive way, if you do it in a professional way and if you really get your teeth stuck into it. You may need to create a project yourself, obviously with a scientific base but with the majority of work done by YOU. This will show commitment, interest and if done well will also show your level of professionalism.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew! As we mentioned earlier, having a first project that will succeed is crucial for your longevity and the health of your local marine ecosystems. Little by little is the key!
Unless you have a limitless supply of money then you are going to need to be creative in your marketing and publicity. Involving established and respected companies and organizations will, if done correctly, benefit your projects with both public awareness and sponsorship. It will also accelerate the building of your reputation, which is another crucial aspect for successful projects in the future.
Looking for sponsorship
Once your proposal is complete ask a few people you know to have a look over it, make comments and suggestions. Brainstorming at this stage is still a productive way forward. Should there be any small alterations, make them and then prepare to write an accompanying letter to possible sponsors.
You would be surprised at who may take up an opportunity to sponsor a marine research or conservation project, particularly if you live in an area where there is very little being done. People like to feel good about themselves, give them the opportunity to join you. It will benefit them directly.
Think outside the box, if you are looking for a sponsor try to create a link between them and what you are doing, a natural and obvious link will do the trick.
When you believe in something it will happen. The combination of hard work, determination and belief will lead to success of your projects. If you feel like giving up, think again! If thinking again should fail then contact me… Brad@OndineEscape.com or Brad@asociacionondine.org. I am just like you, a diver that cares and doesn’t mind a little hard work.
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