Project AWARE

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Project AWARE
Logo: a hammerhead shark, a diver and the words "Project Aware"
Motto Protecting Our Ocean Planet – One Dive at a Time
Formation 1989
Type NGO
Legal status not for profit incorporation in Australia, UK and USA
Purpose Conservation of the Marine Environment
Region served
Dr. Drew Richardson
Executive Director
Alex Earl[1]

Project AWARE is a registered nonprofit organization working with volunteer scuba divers for marine conservation. It is currently focused on two issues: "sharks in peril" and marine debris. It is active in 180 countries.[2]


The Project AWARE Foundation was established in 1989 by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) in response to growing concerns by some scuba divers about potential harm inflicted on coral reefs by recreational and commercial water activities.[3][4] By 2008, Project AWARE was among the largest (by geographical coverage) of several industry led environmental organizations, with administration offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland and Japan.[5]


Project AWARE has "mobilized" volunteer efforts,[6] such as beach and reef cleaning,[7][8] coral monitoring,[9] and Donate as You Dive campaigns. The organization collects data from volunteers who monitor coral health, compiles and reports this data, and encourages the public to pressure governments for greater action on preservation and conservation efforts through letter writing campaigns.[6] In 2008, Project Aware partnered with Reef Check and began sharing data about coral reef health.[10]

In 2011, the organization announced a new focus on the removal of marine debris, encouraging volunteer divers from around the world to actively remove trash from waterways.[11][12][13]

  • During this period there was a reduction in Project AWARE's grant program, from $72,600 in 2010 down to only $8000 in 2011.[14][original research?]
  • At the time when this was written, 2015, Project AWARE's activities, with the exception of a few small grants totaling under $10,000, have been limited to and focused on educational, motivational, and promotional work. [15] These activities include maintaining a facebook page, maintaining a debris clean-up map, providing structure to local volunteer leaders who are organizing debris clean-up events, Promoting letter-writing campaigns, and joining environmental NGO networks in order to give non-financial support to member organizations' lobbying efforts.[16] They also give awards to PADI dive shops, often in exchange for fundraising commitments, such as the 100% AWARE campaign which is awarded to dive shops who pledge to donate $10 for each student they certify through PADI.[17]

BBB Rating[edit]

In 2013, the Project Aware Foundation was given a rating of "standards not met," by the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, due to the low percentage of revenues given as direct donations or spent on direct program expenses, as opposed to administrative spending. The Wise Giving Alliance report also noted a lack of budget oversight, indicated by the absence of detailed expense reporting, the importance of which they noted: " A detailed functional breakdown shows expenses by natural classification (e.g., salaries, travel, postage, etc.) and indicates what portion of these expenses was allocated to program, fund raising, and administrative activities." [18]


  1. ^ "Alex Earl Executive Director, Project AWARE Foundation, Protecting Our Ocean Planet - One Dive At A Time". LinkedIn. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Cater, Carl I (December 1, 2008). "The Life Aquatic: Scuba Diving and the Experiential Imperative". Tourism in Marine Environments 5 (4): 233–244(12). doi:10.3727/154427308788714777. 
  4. ^ Cater, C; Cater, E. (2001). Marine environments In: Weaver, DB. The Encyclopedia of Ecotourism. p. 271. ISBN 0851993680. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  5. ^ Townsend, Claudia (2008). Dive tourism, sustainable tourism and social responsibility: A growing agenda. In: Brian Garrod, Stefan Gössling (eds.) New Frontiers in Marine Tourism: Diving Experiences, Sustainability, Management. p. 140. ISBN 9780080453576. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ staff (25 January 2008). "Reef Check Partners With Project AWARE Foundation". Reef Check. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  11. ^ staff. "Marine debris". Project AWARE. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  12. ^ staff (19 September 2003). "Divers in river rubbish clear-up". BBC News. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  13. ^ staff (15 September 2011). "Eugene Skin Divers Supply dives against debris". KVAL-TV. Retrieved 2014-03-18. 
  14. ^ Cal.state AG document library, form 990 Project aware 2011 >
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External links[edit]