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Qualified divers needed to help find marine reserves

The British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC) – the Governing Body that trains, protects and represents scuba divers and snorkellers – is calling for more divers to join its clubs and help preserve the UK’s unique waters.
BSAC is encouraging lapsed divers, divers who have learnt on holiday and those who have trained and qualified elsewhere, to sign up for its Go Dive with BSAC campaign. This introduces qualified divers – regardless of where they qualified or who they trained with – to local diving through BSAC clubs around the country.
And, by signing up for Go Dive with BSAC, divers can also help to make a real environmental difference by helping to identify coastal waters around the UK that should be set aside as marine reserves.
“The plan is to boost the number of divers exploring and enjoying UK waters and encourage them to help identify areas that need protection,” BSAC membership and marketing manager, Alison Dando, said.
With more than 1,100 active clubs, BSAC divers are in a privileged position to not only enjoy but to also monitor and report on the UK’s diverse marine environment.
As the Government’s draft Marine Bill makes its way through parliament, BSAC and the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) are calling for the Bill to be strengthened with measures and powers to establish a network of highly protected marine reserves. The campaign to create these underwater national parks is called Marine Reserves Now.
With potential marine reserves needing to be identified, BSAC says this is the ideal time for more divers to get back in the water, start exploring the coast and nominating deserving sites.
Divers who sign up for the Go Dive campaign will be invited along to their local BSAC branch where they can find out more about club diving in the UK. They will then be invited to join branch members on a club dive to discover the fantastic marine environment that is on offer around our own shores.
BSAC and MCS are also asking Go-Divers to nominate marine reserves in any area of coastline or marine environment within the UK’s 200 nautical mile economic exclusion zone. They can do this through a project called Seasearch ( by completing and submitting a simple observation form after any dive. Coordinated by MCS (, this provides information about habitat and seabed conditions, as well as species of marine life.
The surveys add another purpose to diving – and mean that any dive with a BSAC club can be a Seasearch dive.
“Seasearch is a vital tool in identifying potential marine reserves.” Dando said. “But for it to be effective, we need the active support of all scuba divers, not just the regulars.
“It is crunch time for our marine environment and we’re asking for help from all divers out there, regardless of when they trained, when they last dived or whose qualification they hold. We need these divers to get in touch with their local BSAC clubs and join us to make a real difference.”
BSAC represents more than 38,000 active scuba divers and snorkellers in the UK but says there are tens of thousands of Britons who trained to dive else where and have yet to sample just what British diving has to offer or who just don’t know how to get involved.
There are also many divers who used to dive in the UK but have taken a break.
“Our aim is to get these people back in the water, exploring the many world-class dive sites around the UK and contributing to the momentum behind Marine Reserves Now,” Dando said.
“There are many UK dive sites offering a world-class experience.” She said. “Our hope is that by pushing for reserves in some of these areas we will establish a chain of underwater havens around the country similar to the waters off the Isles of Scilly, home to a kaleidoscope of marine life, and the voluntary marine reserve at St Abbs where the cliffs stand 100m high in places and extend below the surface creating a dramatic underwater home for a wide range of sea creatures.”
“What makes a good marine reserve is not so much an ecological question as a social one,” said MCS biodiversity policy officer, Dr Jean-Luc Solandt. “The best marine reserves are ones that people respect and will want to preserve. Our aim is to find a good selection of such sites that comprise a representative sample of all marine ecosystems in our waters.”
Dr Solandt said many marine environments were extremely resilient and, with good stewardship, could recover well. Other environments, such as deep-water lophelia coral reefs, are less hardy and need protection because they are irreplaceable.
“We have already knackered many of these beautiful, delicate corals, he said. “We need to protect the few that are left now before we lose them forever.”
Anyone signing up for the Go Dive with BSAC campaign, will receive an exclusive DVD  – Go Diving UK – filmed by news reporter John MacIntyre, featuring unique footage of the best UK dives, including the warship Scylla, scuttled in 2004 near Plymouth as the UK’s first artificial reef. The DVD highlights the success of this project with spectacular shots of marine life now found at this site.
To register for Go Dive with BSAC visit  and complete the online form. Alternatively, call free on 0500 947 202. The campaign will run throughout the summer months. The initial Go Dive branch meeting is free. Costs for an introductory dive with branch members vary, but are normally minimal to cover expenses only.

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