PADI Torchbearer Stanislav Yurchenko, 100% AWARE Master Scuba Diver Trainer and Adopt a Dive Site Member (521, Mirette Reef) got in touch with us on [email protected] to share his conservation story and hopes for the future (Hint: Africa-wide Adopt A Dive Site and a new Ecological AWARE-inspired Festival in Moscow, Russia!). Originally from Russia but now based in Hurghada, Egypt, Stanislav is a living example of how one person can make a difference at home and abroad, by engaging with PADI AWARE Programs, his community and some outside the box thinking.
We are proud to share Stanislav’s achievements to date, and encourage any Torchbearer reading this to also get in touch with us to share your own success stories and hopes for the future! Together, we can save the ocean.
What marine conservation achievements are you most proud of?
From the very beginning of my diving journey, first as a recreational diver and then as a pro, I have been a member of the AWARE community and supporting the programs. It all started with voluntary contributions for obtaining my first certifications, then I participated in targeted programs including the recent “Make Time 4 Makos” campaign. Once I became a professional diver, I chose to ensure that each of my students came away with a mandatory AWARE certification and was/is encouraged to pay the voluntary contribution.
As I grew in my diving career, I realized that I could do much more than just help financially with projects. I have spoken several times at the PADI conference within the framework of the Dive Show exhibition in Russia, participated in volunteer programs, for example, in South Africa, with the support of the Shark and Marine Research Institute. I then applied for participation in the Adopt a Dive Site program, and for two years we have successfully carried out regular cleaning of the reef in Hurghada (521, Mirette Reef). Of course, the results are evident and it’s encouraging to see the difference – there are mud jumpers on the reef (in the absence of mangroves), the reef is absolutely healthy, corals are growing, the amount of garbage raised by us from the bottom is steadily decreasing.
So what is next on your agenda?
I met with representatives of the REPS (environmental association under the government of Egypt) and received there the status of Environmental Expert and a certificate for outstanding contribution to the preservation of the purity of the Red Sea. My next task is to expand the list of reefs under my responsibility. The nearest plan is Safaga, El Qusayr, Hurghada, but my future hopes are to include the whole of Africa! I conducted exploration on the coasts of Africa; Gambia, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, and feel confident about a comprehensive strategy coming together in the next years.
First of all, a data collection master class is required, and then we can go about regular monitoring on a larger scale. We live in the 21st century. What that means is that modern means of online communication allow us to monitor the reef – including remote reefs – more effectively than ever before. We plan to contribute this data to the AWARE Global Database, as I am already doing on a smaller scale with my adopted dive site. Unfortunately, the covid pandemic has put a halt to some of this work, both due to diving restrictions and difficulties meeting. However, this is changing and just a week ago I personally visited reef 521, made sure of its cleanliness and issued new instructions. The ADS system works, it just needs to be expanded across Egypt and then the rest of the continent. Then our ocean will be cleaner. This is my mission.
But now I would like to talk about Europe. More precisely, about Russia. In short – I think we need a new Dive Show. And we made it. This year. The key point of the festival is ecology. We categorically deny the presence of underwater hunters, trophy fishermen, and so on at the festival. Our mission is to attract interest to the ocean, to preserve the ocean. We are organizing a brand new diving and water sports show with the support of the Moscow City Hall, on the Day of the City of Moscow. It’s The Big Ocean Show and I am the coordinator of the festival.
The festival will be held on September 2 – 5th, 2021, at VDNH (this is the largest venue in Moscow and the official venue of the City Hall), in pavilion number 55. This is the day of the city of Moscow, we expect a large attendance. The mission of the festival is to unite people and ocean in a more harmonious way of interaction. Well-being both for the people and the ocean. Our tagline is: “Your Key to the Ocean”. We want to bring together all possible types of water sports and entertainment on one site. And, of course, the key place in them is occupied by diving, in all its manifestations, from freediving to technical diving and para-diving. Now a pool of Ambassadors is being created, these are declared record holders, public figures, authors of books on diving. We have the support of the Moscow Government and the Ministry of Nature. Negotiations are underway with the Regional Governors, the first positive responses have been received.
It is our free will to keep Conservation and Ecology key line of our festival, as we deeply believe without the healthy ocean there is no future. Neither for the watersports industry nor for the humanity. As we don’t have any major sponsorship or support for such projects, we have to make it commercially profitable. This is to ensure that it becomes an annual event and gains wider support. But I voluntarily decline any payment personally; this is my contribution to our ocean. If each of the inhabitants of the Earth gives one cent – it is already seven billion dollars! The rules are simple – with small actions, we can create a big deal.
For more information or to get involved with Stanislav’s plans in Egypt or Russia, just email us on [email protected] and we will connect you.