In action: Scuba Divers

AMMANFORD Sub-Aqua Club (ASAC) recently held a litter-pick and scavenger hunt at Burry Port Harbour, where 14 club members, friends and family joined forces to clear rubbish from the car park, coastal path and local beach.

Over the course of two hours, six bags were filled with all sorts of weird and wonderful items, from fishing line and food wrappers, to radiator panels and even a shopping trolley.

It wasn’t all hard work, though; the event included a winter ‘rum walk’ through Pembrey Country Park and a highly commended carvery at the Ashburnham Hotel, where teams were awarded prizes for their efforts.

Discarded rubbish often lies at the bottom of the sea, hidden from most people’s view. But scuba divers — such as ASAC’s members — see first-hand the devastating effects it has on beaches, the ocean, and marine life. Fortunately, calls to tackle the problem are increasing, with demands to ban plastic, and pleas for action from renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

Closer to home, BBC’s Countryfile and Countryfile Diaries have both featured ASAC’s litterpicks along the Gower and Burry Port to help highlight the issue of litter and marine conservation. This year, the club also took part in clean-up campaigns organised by the British Sub-Aqua Club and Llangrannog Boating and Angling Association— both of which it plans to support again in 2019.

ASAC’s efforts go beyond organised events, as club member Danielle Schofield explains. “If we see rubbish on any of our regular dives, we’ll always pick it up if it’s safe to do so. We often find fishing weights, bottles, or drinks cans, and many of us have rescued crustaceans or fish that have become entangled in ghost nets.”

Having celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year, ASAC – based in Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, is proud to be one of the most active scuba diving clubs in South Wales. In 2018 alone, come sunshine or snow, it completed 26 days’ boat diving at sea (covering 39 unique dive sites from wrecks to reefs) — and many more shore dives from local beaches, quarries and lakes. While most of the club’s trips focus on the Pembrokeshire coastline, trips have also taken place in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Scotland, the Red Sea and beyond.

In recent years, ASAC has sought to grow the number of members, especially instructors, and to increase the number of female divers in support of national diversity campaigns. Today, the club has 17 members and counting, nine instructors (who give up their time voluntarily to train other divers), and almost a third of the membership is female!

This success comes with thanks to local organisations who have offered funding, resources and time to support the club over the past two decades: In 1998, ASAC’s founding members received grants from the local community chest and Sports Council towards the purchase of equipment and its first boat.

In 2016, Mynydd y Betws Wind Farm community benefit fund and Churches in Wales part-funded a second boat. This year, local business RDH Transport donated their services to install a new compressor and kit store at Betwys Rugby Club, where the club meets each week.

Ammanford Sub Aqua Club is now looking forward to another year of diving and clean-up operations, and is keen to welcome new members who’d like to help make a difference in 2019.

For more information visit www.ammanford-divers.com or search ‘Ammanford Divers’ on Facebook.

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