Other than the marine and navy, POSCO’s Clean Ocean Volunteer Group also plays a part in protecting the ocean!
On March 3, POSCO’s Pohang Clean Ocean Volunteer Group received the Presidential Commendation at the National Recommendation Award, which is selected by the Ministry of the Interior and Safety. The award is handed out following recommendations from the people. Surprisingly, one citizen of Pohang recommended Pohang Clean Ocean Volunteer Group for the prize.
POSCO Works shares a special relationship with the ocean because POSCO must import raw materials and transport products through the ocean. Due to this factor, club activities to enjoy scuba diving and explore the ocean are especially active at POSCO. And in 2009, the POSCO club members gathered their talents to go beyond their hobbies and formed the “POSCO Clean Ocean Volunteer Group” to protect the clean ocean.
POSCO Newsroom sat down with some members of the POSCO Clean Ocean Volunteer Group to hear about their activities which include collecting ocean wastes and starfish in nearby oceans..
Q. Founding member Jong-Bin Park tells us the first story of how the Clean Ocean Volunteer began.
“I am a founding member of the Clean Ocean Volunteer Group and currently serve as an advisor. Our first dive to protect the ocean began in November 2009. The mission was to purify underwater and collect waste onshore. There were many clubs centered on scuba diving in Pohang Works, and at that time, I belonged to one of these clubs called the Marine Volunteer Group. Before the “Clean Ocean Volunteer Group” was established, our club began activities to remove starfish at the abalone farm in Pohang in 2001. These activities triggered the launch of “POSCO Clean Ocean Volunteer Group,” which was founded by integrating the scuba diving clubs active in Pohang Works.”
Q. Then let’s listen to what the underwater scenery looks like from the Captain who is leading the Clean Ocean Volunteer Group.
“What comes to your mind when you imagine the underwater of a wide blue ocean? Is it beautiful scenery with various fish swimming along the colorful coral reefs? Of course, the ocean is beautiful. However, there is also another underwater scenery of various garbage, such as plastic and waste nets, that is destroying the beautiful marine ecosystem. Environmental hormones from plastic destroy the marine ecosystem, and waste nets affect the reduction of fish stocks and cause safety accidents of ships or underwater recreational activities. Also, waste wood disturbs ship operations and causes damage to sea farms, and starfish cause trouble to the local fishing community since they feed on other fish. Therefore, the fishing community says that they are grateful for the garbage collecting starfish capturing activities of the Clean Ocean Volunteer Group.”
Q. So, the Clean Ocean Volunteer Group is not something anyone can do?
“Even if you are afraid of dark and deep waters, and you don’t have a scuba diving license, you don’t have to worry about it when signing up! We have a “pre-register, post-license” system! Joining the volunteer group doesn’t require any conditions, and you can easily obtain a license because experienced seniors help you. In addition, external instructors are invited regularly to conduct various diver training, such as underwater, lifesaving, safety, and equipment training. You can participate in volunteer activities, keep a hobby, and become healthier, all at once!”
Q. Then, are there many beginners in the Clean Ocean Volunteer Group?
“I joined the Clean Ocean Volunteer Group when I started learning scuba diving in June 2020. At first, I was worried about whether I would do well, but since I was working with a “buddy,” a partner who dives in with beginners, I wasn’t scared at all. My current buddy is Scuba Diving Master Young-Seok Cho, and I’ve been partnering with him since I first learned to dive, so we’re really great partners. The “Buddy System,” which means to work in pairs, is great because it can keep each person safe in emergencies, such as equipment abnormalities and health problems, as well as pick up trash that is difficult to do alone during marine volunteer activities.”
Q. What is your goal this year?
“Clean Ocean volunteer activities are held every Saturday, but at times they are canceled due to bad weather. Also, because I work in shifts, it is difficult to participate every week, so I lack experience. This year, I would like to dive and volunteer more, so I can go beyond the open water diving certification and attain an advanced one.”
Q. Do you have anyone in your family participating with you?
“I started marine volunteer work in June 2011, and my younger son joined me as an onshore team of the Clean Ocean Volunteer Group in March 2017, since he had to fill volunteer hours at his high school. Then, in May last year, he started underwater activities with scuba diving equipment. The rest of my family, including my wife and my eldest son, are also participating in the Clean Ocean Volunteer Group as onshore team members. My eldest son, who is currently serving in the Marine Corps, is also planning to participate in underwater activities after being discharged, so I am looking forward to the day that I can participate in underwater volunteering together with both my sons.”
Q. How did you come to join the Clean Ocean Volunteer Group with your father?
“When I was young, I went to the sea with my father and found several large birds dying on the shore. I saw a lot of trash around the dead birds, and I thought that the reason so many birds died is that they ate those garbage. I remember that while collecting the trash with my father, I told him that we shouldn’t throw away garbage here in the future so that the birds do not die.”
Q. They say that group companies are also participating?
“I am a member of the Clean Ocean Volunteer Group representing POSCO C&C. Even if it wasn’t for volunteering, I used to go on domestic and international dive tours with my wife whenever we had time. Since we both love scuba diving, all activities were fun and energetic for me and rather soothing. Now, I am taking a break because I have to care for my child, but I think my volunteering was more meaningful because my wife, who is more passionate about diving than me, was with me. The challenging thing for me at this point is that I can’t participate in volunteer activities because I’m currently nurturing a 9-month-old diver-to-be.”
Q. I heard that you were mistaken for thieves at the beginning of your activities.
“Now, when you go out for marine volunteering, you must report the number of people on board to the coast guard, but it was not compulsory at the beginning of the Clean Ocean Volunteer Group activities. So, if we carried out activities on boats that were not reported, the coast guard would come and check.”
Q. What have you got to say as the captain?
“I am so grateful to our members who have participated in volunteering on holidays, even taking leaves, and I ask you to volunteer safely. Also, I would like to express my gratitude for the sacrifice and service of our members. They have made it possible to pass on the ‘healthy & clean ocean’ to our descendants.”