12.06.2013 - UNESCO Havana/Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

7th International Course on Scientific Diving - CMAS - of the World Underwater Federation Zone America

© Yamilé Luguera.Women divers participating in the course.

As part of the activities in favour of protecting the underwater cultural and natural heritage in Cuba and in the Latin American and Caribbean region, the 7th International Course on Scientific Diving - CMAS - of the World Underwater Federation Zone America was held from 3 to 8 June 2013, organized by the Mexican Federation of Underwater Activities and the Cuban Federation of Underwater Activities (FMAS-FCAS), under the auspices of UNESCO. The event took place in Santa María del Mar, Havana, Cuba.

Diving professionals and researchers from five Latin American countries, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru, participated in the training, together with members of the Archaeology Department of the Office of the Historian of Havana, the Higher Institute of Art and the National Aquarium of Cuba. During the course, papers were presented by prestigious researchers on the protection and preservation of the underwater cultural heritage and practical sessions were held on land and underwater to learn non-intrusive underwater recording techniques using traditional tape measures and reference grids as well as computer based surveys.

During the event, Tatiana Villegas, programme specialist at the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean, delivered a lecture on the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage and its benefits for the region. The Convention expressly promotes responsible and non-intrusive access to observe or document cultural heritage. It is estimated that there are close to 15 million divers worldwide. UNESCO has adopted a Code of Ethics for diving on submerged archaeological sites for them that ensures respect for the underwater cultural heritage, raising awareness of its importance and the dangers posed by organized pillage and the recurrent collection of souvenirs. The UNESCO specialist urged participants to adopt and disseminate this Code of Ethics, which encourages appreciation and protection and dissuades access when it becomes incompatible with the preservation and adequate management of these underwater cultural heritage sites.

Scientific divers are also important allies of underwater archaeologists, who count on their support in developing activities involving submerged heritage. Scientific diving is also applied in marine biology and oceanographic studies, fields of positive research alliance. Divers are potential guardians of the cultural heritage and the environment, and we should raise awareness of this enormous potential for the preservation of our cultural and natural heritage in the waters of the world.

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