Pacific Divers - Recipient of the Air New Zealand Cook Islands Tourism Awards 2011 ANZ Environment Award
Pacific Divers has been recognized by the 2011 Awards assessors as the Cook Islands leading business in environmental consideration. The competition was significant, and the award a surprise. We congratulate all environment category finalists and commend you on your efforts to reduce your environmental footprint.
What does Pacific Divers do to reduce our environmental footprint?
Simply, we took it upon ourselves to incorporate environmental considerations into every business decision. We have recognized that prudent environmental behaivour is also prudent economic behaviour, reducing waste and costs.
We still have a long way to go and one of the great things is that we still have a lot of room for improvement.
Some of our key decision points as outlined in our entry;
When building our new boat we looked for a design that would increase our capacity and reduce our running costs. As running costs of a boat are related to fuel usage and therefore fossil fuel use and carbon emmissions, this exercise was both for economic and environmental benefits.
We built a light aliminium boat, 8.5 metres long, with a capacity for 12 divers on a 2 dive excursion. We powered it with a 200hp Mercury Optimax engine. This might sound like a big engine, but choosing a powerful engine means it does not need to operate at full throttle to achieve what it needs to. Mercury Optimax Engines are computer controlled, direct injected two stroke outboards that have similar fuel consumption and emissions to 4 stroke engines, with a lighter weight and cheaper purchase price.
Its not just the boat, but how we operate it that counts.
In building this boat we have been able to drastically change the way we operate and this is where key benefits are found. The vessel stays in the water, so we reduce our vehicle usage considerably, not needing to tow the boat and launch it every day. The vessel is also comfortable enough to remain at sea between dives, with a full sun canopy, stereo and plenty of space. Not required a trip back to the harbour between dives (except when weather forces it) has reduced our miles at sea. We also operate the boat slowly for the majority of our transits, again reducing the operating footprint.
On our dives we take it upon ourselves to conduct and lead dives in a manner that reduces our impact and educates our divers about the marine environment. We do not force information but instead, make it available to those that are curious. We are currently in the process of linking the work of the Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative more closely with our diving programme.
We also establish and use wherever possible, fixed mooring lines in place of anchoring. This reduces damage to the reef and is quite a common practice internationally. We are currently expanding our network of moorings on the Rarotonga coast.
Around the office we take little steps like using refillable water bottles (wherever possible), turning off display fridges and monitors at night, reducing printing and reducing vehicle usage.
Pacific Divers is also a key supporter of the Pacific Islands Conservation Initiative. PICI runs the Cook Islands Turtle Project, Rubbish Round-up and a number of other projects. Pacific Divers contributes data to the turtle project and provides the office space and staff to run the project. Many thanks to Rhia Spall who in 2010, did a fantastic job with the Rarotonga Turtle Survey. We also support the work of PICI at Lagoon Day, providing staff, information and prizes for kids.
Every year we conduct an underwater cleanup, but this year we partnered with PICI for the month long Rubbish Roundup. We conducted 4 underwater cleanups and removed a huge amount of trash from our reef. Rubbish collection is not confined to special events, wherever practical our divers remove rubbish encountered on every dive.
During the last few years I have been fortunate enough to have travelled to and dived some of the Cook Islands remote places.
The Cook Islands is home to far more diversity in people, culture and geography than is evident from just visiting Rarotonga or Aitutaki (although these are both great starts). It's a visit to one of the outer islands, where vistors seldom get to, that lets you get a feeling for the people and the ways of the Pacific, first hand.
Its in these places that you really understand the people do rely on their environment for provision of food, building materials, medicine... in fact, for everything. Although our way of life seems less reliant on the environment than theirs, the fact is that we are all at natures mercy in the end.
And here at Pacific Divers we understand the value of environmental responsiblity, and its our pledge that we will consider the environment in every decision we make. From using permanent moorings in place of (coral destroying) anchors, to how we dispose of oils and waste. You can be sure that when you dive with us, you're supporting an environmental cause.