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Wetpixel Live: UN Charter for UW Photographers

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2021 to 2030 has been designated as the Ocean Decade by the United Nations. Thanks in part to tireless lobbying by Ellen Cuylaerts, they have recognized the value of underwater imaging as a messenger to promote the beauty and majesty of the oceans, along with their vulnerability. Alex and Adam discuss the UN's charter for underwater image makers on Wetpixel Live and highlight what an important document it is for all underwater image-makers.


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Hi Adam,

Love the video. Do you have a link to the charter or the contents so we can help promote it?


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Charter for Ocean Decade Champions in Image-making
I , ____________, working in the underwater realm, commit myself to the following code of ethics and bringing education and awareness around my encounters, to help preserve our oceans and blue planet!
1. I will use my skills and ability as an image maker to attempt to faithfully reproduce the beauty, splendor and majesty of the underwater world and by doing so, to encourage other to become engaged in protecting it.
2. I will use my skills and my voice in documenting the challenges the oceans face to raise awareness and as a call to action.
3. I will not stress or endanger subjects (fauna and flora) for the sake of an image. If the position of the subject is not contributing to a good image, I will either just document or observe. I will not manipulate or move subjects to an unnatural environment. Not by touching and not by provocation.
4. I will work locally if applicable and contribute time to document and tell stories in support of local conservation initiatives.
5. I will consider the impact my image has once it is distributed without the right context and withhold images that can spark sensationalism and wrong practices.
6. I will research my subjects before attempting taking images or footage of them, hence being aware of their behaviour in the water and my reaction to them. This will create an awareness needed to keep the subjects and myself safe in the water. I realize by not understanding my subject I can unwillingly provoke a potentially dangerous situation in the water. Most of the times that will create a media backlash in disadvantage for the subject. (cf. sharks in the media)
7. I will practice what I preach! For example, in the fight against single use plastic I will use my reusable water bottle, hot drinks container and so on. When attending events, I will share my concerns and ideas and will try to inspire not by pointing fingers but by giving the right example. I will not accuse nor name and shame but graciously lead by example to inspire others to do the same.
8. I will inform myself and people around me about sustainable food and the better consumption choices, but will do that in a respectful and polite way.
9. I will create a rational dialogue with those that want to learn, talk at schools and inspire the next generations.
10. I will commit to negotiate a fair price when my images are used for commercial purposes. This will allow me and future image makers to create images with an impact to show the world and tell the stories.
11. I will contribute with images or video/film to UNESCO’s Ocean Decade communication activities.
12. Where I can, I will participate in Ocean Decade events and communicate about it on social media as
an Ocean Decade Champion.
13. I will be an Ocean Decade Champion in everything I do and understand that actions speak louder than
14. I will commit to dialogue and looking for constructive solutions when challenged and understand the
power of compromise and diplomacy to obtain a common goal in conservation.
"We all share one Planet, and we all share one Ocean.
Our Ocean is under threat: pollution, overfishing and climate change are harming the marine world. What is at stake is not only the survival of entire ecosystems, but also our own existence on the Earth.
Motivated by the ambition to save both nature and humanity, the United Nations have declared the years 2021 to 2030 the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
The Decade will ensure that ocean science can fully support countries in their pathway to sustainable development, in line with the 2030 Agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
In support to the Decade, countries, foundations, young ocean professionals and many more are united by the commitment to promote science to inform the sustainable development of our Ocean.
UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission as coordinating body for the Decade recognizes that Image-makers working in the underwater realm are unique ambassadors of our Ocean, who convey a message of beauty and fragility.
They can help protect our Ocean by raising awareness and educate through their images.
Photographers worldwide have come together to express their commitment to protect our Ocean and have become signatories of the Charter for Ocean Decade Champions in Image-making, which I am pleased to share with you in attachment.
The Charter is a compilation of good practices that Image-makers will commit to in order to ensure their activities will not damage the marine environment in any way, thus contributing to the preservation of our shared Blue Planet."

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