President's Slate

October 2020
When Hooper tells Chief Brody it doesn’t make much sense for a guy who hates the water to live on an island, Brody famously replies ‘it’s only an island if you look at it from the water’. As someone who has lived on islands for the past twenty years, I can appreciate how looking at things from a different perspective can make all the difference. I’ve been talking to many people in our community in the past few months about AAUS as our own scientific diving certification agency and I’ve been asked many times: ‘By what authority are we able to create this structure?’.

A quick search for scuba certification agencies reveals literally hundreds of existing agencies, both in the US and abroad. AAUS shows up across many search results as a ‘scientific diving certification agency’. Indeed, over the years the Academy has offered our member organizations the opportunity to provide their divers a ‘certification’ card, originally a paper card from the Office and now through our partnership with ITI. This year, we have been preparing to make a big leap. We are now insured as an organization that promulgates standards, accreditation, and certification. We are currently beta testing our new e-Learning platform that provides the required academic content for scientific divers in training. With international partner organizations, we have prepared a draft minimum training standard for recognition of training around the world. And most importantly we have formed a partnership with the Office of Maritime Enforcement, our regulatory and enforcement agency in the Department of Labor, to ensure our recognition in the industry.

I’m going to ask everyone soon if they’re ready to formally join the Academy as AAUS Scientific Diving Instructors, paying your professional member dues to our organization. I’m going to argue this is one of the best ways for us to take ownership of our sector in the industry and of our future. We are the authority. After all, we’re only a certification agency if you look at us like we are.

Derek Smith
University of Washington