The activists have removed over 480kg of plastic waste from the ocean in Qatar.
Several marine activists have organised an underwater clean-up drive to raise awareness on the dangers of plastic pollution in Qatar, collecting over 960kg of waste.
According to the group, the waste included 192kg of metals, 480kg of plastic, and 288kg of wood, cigarette butts, clothes, and other non-recyclable items.
Award-winning underwater photographer and marine life conservation enthusiast Khaled Zaki said that the initiative is part of a global movement for marine life conservation known as “Project AWARE”.
The global movement was initiated by a registered nonprofit organisation working with volunteer scuba divers who protect the ocean. Their focus is to implement lasting change in two core areas: shark conservation and marine litter.
Themed under “Dive Against Debris,” the campaign urges all divers to use their endeavour to help keep the oceans “free of rubbish and stop plastics from harming marine animals.”
The movement helped “removed over 2mn pieces of debris and aided over 10,000 entangled marine animals”. It also aims to reduce marine debris by 50% in targeted countries by 2030.
However, in recent years, the effects of water pollution have taken a significant toll on the ocean, which covers over 71 per cent of Earth and is home to almost a million species.
Recent statistics have shown that 88% of the sea’s surface is polluted by plastic waste. More than 1 million plastic bags end up in the trash every minute worldwide, significantly damaging marine life.
Damage to coral reefs caused by global warming and overfishing and pollution could potentially cause a 30% decline in fish catch potential in Qatari waters by the end of the century, according to Research Assistant Professor at Qatar University Pedro Range.
This is why Qatar’s professional divers have come together to prevent marine damage as much as possible in the Gulf country.
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 the diving community collects debris in diving sites whenever it is possible to keep the ocean clean.
“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.
He added that they dive daily to keep the waters as clean as possible. However, he noted that several spots still need special attention, especially in the popular beaches around the country.
The professional urged the community to become more responsible and not leave trash on the beach, in addition to reducing their consumption of single-use plastic, which “lasts in the waters forever.”
“During the dive, I spotted a group of small fish which keep circling the group and me, and I can hear a voice deep inside my head saying that these fish are pleased, 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.”
Single-use plastic significantly contributes to water pollus=tion and marine life destruction every year. PADI.com estimates that more than 250mn tonnes of plastic will pollute the ocean by 2025.
Meanwhile, 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.