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This paper proposes a channel access protocol for ad-hoc underwater acoustic networks which are characterized by long propagation delays and unequal transmit/receive power requirements. The protocol saves transmission energy by avoiding collisions while maximizing throughput. It is based on minimizing the duration of a hand-shake by taking advantage of the receiver's tolerance to interference when the two nodes are closer than the maximal transmission range. Nodes do not need to be synchronized, can move, are half-duplex, and use the same transmission power. This protocol achieves a throughput several times higher than that of the slotted FAMA, while offering similar savings in energy. Although carrier sensing ALOHA offers a higher throughput, it wastes much more power on collisions.