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Interactive map launched for 'Dive Against Debris' initiative

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April is coming to a close and although that means the celebration of Earth Month will also be behind us for the year, it certainly has done wonders to jump start ocean conservation for 2014.

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All the exceptional efforts done by Project AWARE became even more evident on April 22nd, Earth Day. The non-profit organization launched an interactive map, the first ever of this kind and magnitude. This map is the by-product of nearly three years of diligent reporting by an international network of scuba divers who remove trash as they continue to participate in the 'Dive Against Debris' initiative. Research has proven that more than 6 million tons of trash, mostly plastic, makes its way into the ocean annually.

The map informs by showing:

· Plastics are the No. 1 type of ocean trash found by Project AWARE divers, making up 70% of the total amount of debris reported to date.
· Everyday items like plastic bottles and plastic bags as well as other plastics like fishing line and nets are some of the sources of plastic waste reported by divers.
· Trash is found in some of the most remote underwater environments of the world.

Ocean waste is an escalating issue that has the potential to be fatal to our entire marine ecosystem. Scuba divers all over the globe are shining the spotlight on this issue that is raising many eyebrows and gaining worldwide attention, thanks to Project AWARE. Trash is unnecessarily threatening some of our most beloved coastlines.

“Armed with the information, supported by people on the ground, and working in partnerships, we can drive much needed change for the ocean from two directions: bottom up and top down,” said Ania Budziak, Associate Director of Science and Policy for Project AWARE. “Together, we can change what we produce, consume, and how we dispose of our waste. We can also influence policies necessary to improve how waste is managed locally, regionally and globally.”

“As scuba divers, we’re able to use our unique skills and knowledge to collect data to show the devastating impacts our waste has on life beneath the waves,” said Budziak. “Project AWARE volunteers who remove and report underwater debris are members of a unique community that contribute to a clean and healthy ocean and also inspire us all to make ocean friendly choices every day.”

Viewing the map for yourself gives you a startling picture of the amount of areas that are plagued with the plight. However, because of diver volunteers willing to go that extra mile to make sure our oceans are preserved, we can make the result successful. As more divers get actively involved with 'Dive Against Debris' to remove and report underwater marine debris-our trash underwater-Project AWARE is hoping that this new online tool will assist in identifying target areas where waste reduction efforts are needed the most.

Project AWARE gives divers the empowerment they need to do their part. Check out this newly introduced interactive map and follow Project AWARE on Twitter. Take part in a 'Dive Against Debris' day in your ocean community. Just one person can make a huge difference.

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