Why have a code of conduct?
A guiding philosophy for community-based underwater research groups in NSW is to minimise the impact on the underwater environment when conducting group-driven activities. It’s essential that members strive, where possible, for passive interactions with biota, allowing marine creatures to guide and control the interaction where such interactions occur.
By ensuring that marine biota has ‘space’ and by interacting with them in a non-threatening way, group members are able to enjoy longer and often more spectacular encounters with them. Importantly, we minimise our impact on their natural behaviours.
A code of conduct is intended to be a central guide and reference for group members in support of day-to-day decision making regarding their interactions with seascapes, habitats and the biota that reside in marine ecosystems. It clarifies the organisation's mission, values and principles, linking them with standards of personal and group conduct. It can be considered binding on any person who is a member of a particular group.
Additionally, a code of conduct offers an invaluable opportunity for responsible organisations to create a positive public identity for themselves which can lead to a more supportive operational environment and an increased level of public confidence and trust among important constituencies and stakeholders.
The outcome of the adoption of a code of conduct can be simply thought of as a means to protect and conserve marine systems by establishing and implementing environmentally friendly guidelines to promote positive conservation outcomes when conducting monitoring and research activities.
Prior to Departure
Ensure all participants are fully briefed on the seascape, habitats and biota of the dive site, as well as the logistics of conducting monitoring/research activities.
Consider the diving experience of the volunteers involved in a particular activity. For example, it may be appropriate to buddy pair a highly experienced diver with a new member of the group, not only to mentor the new member in the protocols being conducted but also to reinforce low impact diving techniques.
Always respect the underwater environment and encourage all volunteer divers to do the same.
Be aware of the regulations governing the types of activities that can be undertaken by scuba divers in the areas where monitoring/research programs are to be initiated.