Marine conservation is more than just battling illegal fishing or preventing coral bleaching. Of course these actions are hugely important for the preservation of our ocean eco systems, but there's another key element that is more often ovEmpoweringerlooked: ocean based communities into sustainable business practices.
It's not enough to just prevent overfishing or other forms of unsustainable ocean exploitation. It's crucial to offer those communities that rely on the ocean for their livelihoods an option to tap into their local economy.
That's why we're partnering up with Bay Islands College of Diving (www.dive-utila.com) and PADI to train 12 motivated, local Utila islanders into leadership diving positions. Traditionally it's always more affordable for foreigners to travel down to the island, spend the money on professional training and occupy those job positions.
Imagine being born on a tiny island (less than 10.000 inhabitants), graduating from high school not too long ago and suddenly a pandemic paralyzes the world. You can't relocate, the local job market is 95% reliant on tourism and shut down and even when the economy picks up again, you're easily outcompeted by those who were able to relocate and gather funds.
That, in a nutshell, is why we are committed to making sure as many of these youngsters as possible graduate as Divemasters and/or Instructors. The playing field isn't level and some of us are exposed to more opportunities, just by the sheer luck of being born in "the right" location.
We're being bombarded with news that highlights the differences between us, social inequality and racial divide, exacerbated by the notion that 2020 is a lost year. We're chosing a different narrative! For these islanders, 2020 can still he their year and we can all come together and work together to make the playing field a little bit more level.
Bay Islands College of Diving is donating all logistics, PADI is donating all training materials free of charge and the amazing staff here, Yasmine, Gaby, Shaun, Austin and myself are donating our time and knowledge. No tuition fee required. There are still some expenses in the form of application and examination fees so if you like this initiative and feel like you have something to contribute, you can do so here: http://gf.me/u/ywykz5
Nick Derutter is a PADI Platinum Course Director in Utila, Honduras and Mallorca Spain.