December 2018

The AAUS is 35 years old (older than many of our DSOs)!  In that time we have grown from <20 academic programs representing about 800 divers who conducted about 15,000 scientific dives per year, to our current size of about 150 Organizational Members (including academic, aquarium, government, and private consulting firms) representing >5,000 divers who conduct about 150,000 scientific dives per year.  The AAUS community also currently includes a dozen international organizations, and this number is likely to see substantial growth in the coming years.  

As scientific diving has evolved to encompass technical diving procedures and new equipment, the Academy has also evolved to encompass a diversity of programs with distinct missions and procedures.  The AAUS Standards for Scientific Diving Manual; (note: you must adopt these new standards by 1 June 2019) is the foundation that links this diverse group.  However, to date, we haven’t codified the principles that govern AAUS DSOs in their role as instructors, risk assessment professionals, and ambassadors of their specific programs and the Academy. 

During breakout sessions at the Tahoe meeting, the Board of Directors had discussions with a cross-section of the membership regarding an AAUS Code of Ethics (CoE).   The old guard indicated that an implied CoE was fundamental to the trust involved in reciprocity agreements.  However, as the Academy has increased in size and scope, it is clear we need a formal universal doctrine that directs our behavior as diving professionals.  With the input of several past presidents and current/past members of the AAUS Standards Committees, an AAUS Code of Ethics has been drafted  This CoE  shouldn’t concern anyone; it represents the way most of us have been doing business for years.  Nonetheless, the BoD feels strongly that AAUS DSOs should reaffirm their conviction to these principles on an annual basis (just as you confirm your manual is up to date each year).  Thus, when you sign in to the website to post your annual dues for your organization, you will be asked  verify that your manual and DCB are up to date and you are adhering to this CoE.  
As stated in the CoE: “The AAUS DSOs are scientific diving professionals.  AAUS DSOs are responsible for adding value and contributing to the success of their home organization, and the AAUS.  AAUS DSOs accept professional responsibility for their individual decisions and actions.”  Adherence to these core values increases our credibility as the worldwide leader in scientific diving safety, and make us stronger as a community.  Thanks for your continued belief in the AAUS and our shared ethics.

Marc Slattery
University of Mississippi


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