David Martin spent 19 years of his life in Phuket. But there is one place where he’s been even longer – underwater. Educated in marine biology and a professional underwater videographer, he now spreads his love for the ocean via Phuket’s new marine conservation foundation – Oceans For All.
Please introduce the Oceans For All foundation to our readers and all tell us a bit about your background.
Oceans For All is a foundation whose mission is to restore the balance of the marine ecosystem in places where it has been affected by the tourism industry. This includes Phuket, a place where I live and one of the biggest hubs of tourism that use the ocean as its main asset.
As for me, I’ve been living in Phuket for 19 years. I graduated in marine biology, I’m a diving instructor, an underwater cameraman and I specialize in sharks – I film them for the National Geographic, BBC, Netflix, and others. I also worked as a consultant for hotel groups in the Maldives, where I helped them build their hotels in a sustainable way.
Tell us more about the foundation’s activities, what projects do you have in the pipeline?
We currently have two main projects. One is the planning, elaboration, and construction of an on-land coral farm in Phuket, to grow coral on land and later, when the corals are ready, to relocate them to places in Thailand where tourism activity has destroyed the reef. The other project is to introduce a solar-powered catamaran into Phang Nga Bay, to cruise around with volunteers on board, and collect all the plastic left behind by the crowds of tourists who visit Phang Nga Bay every day.
Is there a time schedule, a road-map for these to happen?
We expect that sometime between one and two years, you will be able to see the first results of what we’re doing. Some projects are fast and easy, like an animal release or a beach cleanup. Bigger projects, like coral farming and cleaning Phang Nga Bay, take more time.
People usually want to see quick results, but in the case of the ocean, the results take more time to show, more time than on land. On land, you plant a tree and after one week, you can already see that it’s growing; in the ocean, because everything happens underwater, it’s very difficult to see the results fast. People have to understand that the conservation of the ocean is not something that happens in three months, it will take time.
Do you know where in Phuket the coral farm will be located?
Not yet. We collaborate with Phuket Marine Biological Centre, we are studying with them what the best location could be, and for now, we’re thinking about the Phuket Marine Biological Centre area in Cape Panwa, behind the aquarium, but not necessarily. We will soon be hosting professor Jaubert from Monaco (professor Jean Jaubert of the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco is a world-class coral specialist and inventor of the “Jaubert Method” of growing corals in aquariums – Editor’s Note) to discuss our plans and what the best location would be.
Who already supports you in Phuket?
We have many supporters from many different backgrounds. We have the support of big players from the hospitality and tourism industry, we have general managers of top tier resorts such as Anthony Lark from Trisara or Claude Sauter from The Surin, we have doctor Kongkiat Kittiwattanawong, the director of Phuket Marine Biological Center, we have Jazon Edouard, the general manager of HeadStart International School. So yes, we have people from different backgrounds that support us.
And our readers? How can they get involved?
Phuketians can get involved by getting to know us. We organize workshops at our office in Boat Lagoon, where we explain all the projects that we have, why we want to do them and how we want to do them.
We also try to help people understand and calculate their CO2 emissions, according to their activity, their cars usage, the electricity they use, etc. We show them how much CO2 they produce that later goes into the atmosphere and negatively affects the oceans. And they can do something about it by making a small donation, not according to how much money they have, but according to their CO2 emissions. So, it’s not only for rich people, it’s not only for big companies, anybody can do it. A secretary, a yoga teacher, anybody can compensate for their carbon footprint for the entire year for as little as 2000 or 3000 baht. And those that do, become members of our Blue Pass network. Blue Pass members get discounts in certain beach clubs, restaurants and shops, and it all creates a network of people who don’t necessarily know each other, but who want to help the ocean.