BoardWalk 2010: Who and What the Fish Are We?

Who are we?

We are a group of like-minded SMU students who want to kick start substantial marine conservation efforts in the region. Fuelled by our passion for the underwater world, we intend to create a sustainable marine conservation project that will serve to benefit marine ecosystems in the Asian region in time to come. Looking at the recent incidents worldwide involving marine degradation and exploitation, we want to change the mindset of visitors patronising the Asian diving industry by bringing their attention to the marine conservation efforts that are taking place in the region. Hopefully by doing so, we are able to curtail the deterioration of the marine ecosystem in the region.

Problem Statement

Many leisure divers, who come to Asia, often leave the area with no more than just pictures and memories of marine creatures they have seen during their expeditions. This however, is not a clear picture of the situation at hand. Tourists who visit Asian dive sites often see the calm and pristine facade without knowing the sad histories that precede the present situation, and actual problems that are plaguing the dive industry. This lack of awareness prevents tourists from participating in marine conservation efforts that may otherwise benefit the ecology of these dive sites.

Furthermore, by not informing diving tourists of the actual situation, the industry falls into a vicious cycle as dive sites are constantly deteriorating due to the high volume of human traffic and activity.

This is substantiated by overwhelming statistics which show that tourist divers that come to Asia for leisure dives are leaving the area without knowing the stories of the marine creatures and the dive sites behind them.

The problem is compounded by the language and cultural barriers between the local villages and the tourists visiting the area. For tourists who wished to find out more about the area, the natives are a source of invaluable information that is often overlooked.

In order to improve the effort of marine conservation in these dive sites, we need to unearth the stories and the actual situation that is happening behind the scenes, and bring them to the public at large.

How are we doing it?

The bulk of our project will be done through intensive research to undercover the hidden stories behind the running and maintaining of these dive sites. This is to unearth the underlying problems that these dive sites and the marine creatures are facing.

A total of 10 to 15 topics will be covered during this conservation initiative, where students will be conducting interviews with the locals, as well as sourcing out information from divers who are familiar with the area. A marine biologist or an experienced dive master will also guide each research group with the relevant expertise in that theme.

The information will then be made into bite size portions and presented as info boards placed at jetties and dive resorts. These info boards will act as conservation corners at these places to provide divers with an avenue to learn more about the history and current situation at the dive sites.

We will also be filming the interviews conducted with these villagers, and filming the current environment at these dive sites. The footage captured will then be presented in a documentary, distributed in social networking mediums to all interested parties in knowing about the current underwater situations in Malaysia. It will also be featured during the ADEX 2011.

Execution period

During the execution period, we will be going for a live-on-board trip to the 3 main dive locations along Eastern Malaysia, namely Pulau Dayang, Pulau Tioman and the Kuantan Wrecks from6-9 August.