Get ready to have your mind blown – well-managed marine protected areas (MPAs) will be some of the most beautiful underwater environments you have ever seen, with more fish and diverse marine life than you can imagine. This is the underwater world as it should be.
2. Forever changed
You won’t be able to look at other dive sites in the same way ever again, and it is highly likely your whole attitude to the underwater world, and its protection, will be altered for the better. Be prepared to become a force for positive change!
3. Be the best
Most properly-run MPAs will have strict regulations about diver behaviour, both on land, on the boat, and underwater. But fear not, these are just ways to ensure that the place stays as healthy as possible, and should be applied everywhere you go to dive.
4. Pay for the privilege
Some MPAs charge a special fee to dive them, and this money should go back into the management of the park. Be prepared to contribute in a very real way to the conservation of these amazing places.
5. Trim is in
Good buoyancy is an MPA’s best friend, as well as yours. Getting your buoyancy right will ensure that you have more fun on your dives, and that you don’t do any unintentional damage to the reef – not that you should be intentionally damaging the place either, of course…
6. Less is more
Some MPAs, like Sipadan in Malaysian Borneo, have quotas for the number of divers they allow on certain dive sites on a given day. Be sure to check and get your permit nice and early to avoid disappointment.
7. Fish don’t bake
Fish feeding: Don’t do it. Period. Feeding fish disrupts the ecosystem’s natural balance and prevents herbivorous fish from grazing algae that needs to be kept under control.
8. Clean green
Get hold of some eco-friendly shampoos and soaps to use while you’re away – non-biodegradable detergents have negative impacts on the watery world – be one of the good guys!
9. Local people
A lot of good MPA management involves working with and empowering local communities. Take an interest and enrich your experience!
10. Spread the word
You will be compelled to tell all your buddies about the incredible things you’ve seen – they are going to be incredibly jealous, but don’t let that stop you from sharing the experience and spreading the love for protected areas!
Check out Scuba Diver AustraliaAsia + Oceanplanet “Blue Green Edition” Issue 2/2017. The issue itself is dedicated to conservation and honours the winners of the Bluegreen360 Awards 2017, which is presented to those businesses and individuals committed to eco-friendly practices and marine conservation.