The Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS) or World Underwater Federation, was founded in 1959 with the aim of developing and encouraging the understanding and conservation of the underwater world and the practice of aquatic and underwater sport and activities.

This momentous creation of a purely underwater organisation would have been impossible without “the passion and strong friendship that brought to life the first association of fishermen, underwater hunters and divers of the International Confederation of Sport Fishing (CIPS)”, which was founded on February 22, 1952.

In 1958, several members of the CIPS had proposed the idea of creating a purely underwater organisation. On September 28, 1958, during the sixth congress of CIPS held in Brussels, 10 federations took the collective decision of creating an international confederation of underwater activities that would take on the mantle of the underwater sport committee (Comité des Sports Sous-Marins) of CIPS, establish new international standards and provide a framework for the people of different cultures to get to know each other and work together in harmony.

Across three days of meetings from January 9 to 11, 1959, the delegates from the underwater federations of Belgium, Brazil, France, Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Italy, Monaco, Portugal, Switzerland, United States of America and Yugoslavia, met in Monaco to establish CMAS. Commandant (Cdt) Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the underwater pioneer and co-inventor of Aqua Lung served as the delegate of Monaco and was elected President of CMAS. The rest of the Executive Bureau of CMAS consisted of:

  • Serge A. Bim (USA), Deputy President
  • Luigi Ferraro (Italy), Vice President and the President of the Sport Committee
  • Oscar Gugen (United Kingdom), Vice President and the President of the Technical Committee
  • Sebastian Vergonox Boix (Spain), Confederation Secretary
  • Robert Métraux (Switzerland), Treasurer
  • Vittorio de Berredo (Brasil); Paul Bailly (Belgium); Jacques Dumas (France); V.Krizanec (Yugoslavia), Member
  • Gustav Dalla Valle (USA); Francois Clouzot (France), Advisors

Mr Jacques Dumas was named Secretary General a few months later. Dumas, who also served as President of CMAS from 1973 to 1985, wrote on the 20th anniversary of the Confederation that “the objects which we fixed for the world Federation in the first congress have been largely attained – to UNIFY, COORDINATE AND DEVELOP”.

Now comprised of over 130 federations from five continents, CMAS is the international body at the forefront of technical and scientific research and development and is the international body organizing international underwater sports events. It is still a strictly non-profit making organisation.

Today, the aims of the Confederation are still:

  • to promote the creation of new national underwater federations or associations in countries when non such exist;
  • to organise or grant the right to organise on its behalf relevant exhibitions, congresses, competitions, international championships and courses;
  • to support all relevant events in relation with the CMAS aims;
  • to seek the Confederation’s admission to all world sports or cultural organisations and the International Olympic Committee in particular;
  • to do everything possible to co-ordinate underwater activities world-wide

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