The increased popularity of recreational water sports has increased pressure on coral growth in Hong Kong. WWF initiated the first collaboration with a major water sports brand to promote a mindful attitude for scuba divers, snorkelers, and kayakers to prevent accidental damage to coral. Both the kayaking and snorkelling code of conduct are being displayed on the two 2-metre tall walls and on the price tags of related products in stores to raise awareness of coral conservation.
Recreational scuba diving in Hong Kong is becoming more popular, and WWF is seeing a growing number of people taking diving certification courses, especially in the summer. However, there is a big gap between acquiring diving skills and becoming aware of ocean conservation priorities. There is an urgent need for divers to learn about conservation; a survey conducted by citizen scientists during the last diving season revealed that divers tend to underestimate their impact on the marine environment. Given this worrying situation, we invited 100 diving instructors, instructor trainers, and course directors to formulate a set of scuba diving cue cards with conservation messages. We believe that the “Train the trainers” approach helps strengthen the abilities and awareness of responsible diving behaviours in communities effectively.
Coral Rescuer Program
With the support of the Swire Trust, WWF and Coral Academy, The Chinese University has jointly launched a citizen science coral restoration project in 2021. WWF recruited 20 experienced divers to investigate the health conditions of coral communities, collect damaged coral fragments through tagging, and follow up with regular monitoring. This pilot project marked a foundation of the collaboration between WWF-HK and Coral Academy and facilitated science-based research and long term conservation strategies.
Ghost Gear Detective
“Ghost gear” is abandoned fishing gear in the ocean, identified as the deadliest marine plastic litter. It entangles coral and marine life, causing injury and death. It is also a potential safety hazard for divers. While the only mitigation is to remove it from the ocean, it is challenging to locate ghost gear. To tackle this problem, WWF developed a monitoring system and a protocol for divers to obtain the exact GPS coordinates of ghost gear sighted underwater. 278 ghost gear pieces have been found and retrieved to date, with 39 active program participants.