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Green Fins #AlternativesToAnchoring Infographic Release!

Categories: Featured Post, Sea
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#AlternativesToAnchoring is the second Action Point of the Green Fins IYOR 2018 social media campaign! If you have been following the campaign, you might have noticed that it aims to support divers and dive businesses to take further action by sharing and providing solutions to some of the biggest threats. By doing so we will be saving coral reefs from mass extinction and the livelihoods of the more than 200 million people who depend on healthy and balanced coral reef ecosystems.

 

Do you know exactly how an anchor can damage marine ecosystems? What are environmentally friendly alternatives? There is no one answer when it comes to finding alternatives to anchoring, however, this campaign will serve as a platform to inspire action and change in others by sharing the stories of success gathered by more than 10 years of working with the industry.

 

Find ALL the solutions to these and more questions on the NEWLY RELEASED infographic:

 

Follow this link to share the infographic with your fellow divers!

 

Follow the different Green Fins social media platforms to get involved and make a change. Because if you don’t…who will?

 

Facebook| Twitter| Instagram| YouTube|Deepblu

 

For more information on the International Year of the Reef 2018 follow this link:  www.iyor2018.org

Want to be part of the movement? Find all the campaign content here.

 

Thanks to Dive.in magazine to help us develop the infographic!

 

Reef-World’s campaign partners are:

UN Environment, Fourth Element, PATA, Six Senses Laamu and Explorer Ventures.

 

See the first Action Point here.

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How to grow your business and give back to the marine environment using the Green Fins Handbook

Categories: Blog Posts
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by JJ Harvey, Operations Manager, Reef-World Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

The modern traveller is not what they used to be. The game has changed and competition amongst businesses is as high as it has ever been. In a similar situation to people applying for work they need to have a CV that stands above the rest, something that has that wow factor or provides an edge on the competition. The same can be said within the tourism industry, where hotels and resorts need to be more than just current with the latest trends, they need to be thinking ahead and predicting what their guests might like, want or need. Nowadays there are standard facilities which are expected by guests and tourists such as a door key card or WiFi Internet which needs to be fast to prevent disappointment and frustration leading to the modern day phenomenon of what can only be described as ‘buffer face.’

Then there are those businesses that are leading the pack and coming out with innovations and new approaches that provide their business with those all-important reviews to keep those customers returning. When you look at these businesses there is a common theme within those that are leading pack. These are the businesses that are not only reducing their impact on the marine environment but are actually contributing to it in a positive manner. It is not enough to be able to have a digital readout near the check-in desk of the amount of CO2 that has been offset from the photovoltaic panels that adorn the roof top. Leading businesses in the tourism industry need to show, either by involving their guests or somehow exposing to them the ways in which their holiday has helped positively contribute to the very environment in which they have come to see in the first place.

When it is time for guests to check out of their hotel or resort and head home, they want to be able to leave with a sense of fulfilment and feeling like that they have got great value for their money. In addition to this, they want to know that they have not negatively contributed to the demise of the local environment. Nothing could be worse than a holiday maker sitting in their seat on the aeroplane on their flight home and feeling that if they come back it won’t be the same. We have all overheard countless conversations of people on holiday referring to places they have been to in the past and saying “well it isn’t the same now of course.”

This is because many places succumb to overdevelopment, beautiful landscapes that have been cleared to make way for more and more rooms, paths and trails that have been overused bereft of wildlife or perhaps a coastline with beaches that have become full of cigarette butts or empty plastic bottles. The likelihood of that tourists returning to such places is low. This is not a good business plan.

Leading businesses need to have that a wow factor that pulls in guests so that they or their friends come back year on year. This is where being able to positively contribute to the environment can result in the environment giving back to the business. A environment that is thriving can lead to a simple return on their investment such as getting free marketing through social media snaps online promoting your business and location for you. Nothing sells your business better than a smiling tourist with a pristine natural environment on Instagram or Facebook. They not only do it better than you can but it costs you nothing! #thankyouverymuch

The marine tourism industry is a perfect example of this. Divers and snorkelers have high expectations and are easily put off a location on their first trip if they don’t see what they should. They will quite happily go somewhere else with their charged GoPros in their endless pursuit of making their friends jealous. Corals that are teeming with fish, clear waters with no floating plastic and a curious turtle that isn’t afraid of people are the perfect examples of what people have on their holiday tick list.

Hotels and resorts that provide marine tourism attractions such as SCUBA diving and snorkelling excursions are often not aware of the simple things that they could do to ensure they are doing the best they can so that they aren’t negatively harming the very environment that they rely on. A simple example of this is that most managers have never checked what their staff are cleaning their boats with. Marine toilets, the outside hull, on-board sinks, guest seating areas and other areas are often regularly cleaned with household cleaning products that are not designed for the marine environment. Chemical cleaning products that have bleach or anti-bacterial agents in them can have serious consequences for fish and corals. Coastal environments in tourist hotspots are already under a significant level of impact from development and run-off and direct inputs from chemical cleaning agents are an unnecessary addition that leads to fish and other marine life being driven away. This can result in guests who might not even get in the water but instead will just watch from the dry safety of the pontoon or pool edge might not see this free’ wow’ factor. A missed opportunity.

In much the same way that managers and business owners look to educate themselves or their team on how they can get a leading edge in marketing through online tutorials or searching the web for some insider business knowledge to provide them with tips and tricks, there is a unique solution for marine tourism business owners from the Green Fins initiative. Green Fins is on the crest of the wave when it comes to unique approaches to conserving coral reefs. The approach helps to unite politics and marine conservation efforts to ensure the sustainability of popular diving destinations around the world. Established through a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and The Reef-World Foundation, Green Fins uses a proven three-pronged approach; green certifications of dive centres, strengthening regulations, and environmental education for dive staff, divers and governments. Over 450 dive and snorkel operators across eight countries have signed up for free membership, and are using Green Fins as a platform to set examples of sustainable business operations. Participating members are awarded a certificate based on annual assessments that is co-signed by the national government, the United Nations, and The Reef-World Foundation.

To fill the gap for the other countries that do not have a trained national Green Fins team that can provide onsite training and certification of the business, the team behind Green Fins have developed a handbook based on 10 years of experience for businesses to download. The solutions to common issues such as waste management, recycling and how to train your staff to prevent damage to the marine environment have been collated and developed into an online guide. This Dive and Snorkel Centre Operational Handbook has links to short training videos, pictures and downloadable attractive multi-lingual posters that are easily accessed. Using a 15 point Code of Conduct developed by the UN and endorsed by PATA, this step by step guide provides simple tips and tricks that can be implemented at a range of businesses whether it is a large chain with over 100 dive centres or a small business that provides occasional snorkel tours.

This handbook was developed in response to the huge demand from diving and snorkel centre managers and owners who were looking for a comprehensive yet simple and realistic guide on business practices and practical solutions that can help the marine environment cope with the increasing levels of tourists. There is the added benefit that scientific studies have shown such businesses practices that put the environment first before revenue generation lead to destinations that are better equipped to withstand the impacts of climate change. For example, coral reefs that are visited by SCUBA diving businesses that follow best practice are far less likely to bleach or become diseased during extended warm periods.

The Green Fins Handbook can be purchased via the Green Fins website for only $25. If you want to know more or want to contact them directly, you can email info[at]greenfins.net.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author(s) and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) or any employee thereof. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability or validity of any information presented by individual authors and/or commenters on our blogs and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries or damages arising from its display or use.

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How to enjoy the coral reefs responsibly

Categories: Green Tips, Planet, Sea, Wildlife
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Credit: Shutterstock

 

Coral reefs are part of the most beautiful ecosystems on our planet. They attract many tourists worldwide, and, in many developing countries, the local community is highly dependent upon tourism generated by divers and snorkellers visiting the reefs.

 

Not only are the reefs extremely beautiful but they are also very important as they are home to numerous marine species and protect us from storms and floods.

 

Sadly the coral reefs are degrading every day because of unsustainable tourism. Diving and snorkelling are extremely popular and are the main cause of reef degradation with fins being the most damaging.

 

Dive and snorkel operators as well as tourists must act responsibly when visiting our planet’s reefs. Here are some basic tips to remember:

 

  1. Do not touch the coral

 

Coral is to be admired from a distance. Coral is alive and touching it can damage it. It can also be dangerous as some corals sting to protect themselves. Don’t remove a piece of coral to take home with you and never buy coral souvenirs. It can take 15 years to grow one centimetre of coral.

 

  1. Swim with care

 

When diving or snorkelling, make sure that you keep your distance and swim horizontally in order to prevent stepping on the reefs. If you are not a confident diver or snorkeller you should practice first in an area without coral reefs  

 

  1. Never leave your rubbish on the beach.

 

Rubbish discarded on beaches can be dragged into the ocean as the tide recedes. This is highly damaging to coral and the fish living amongst the reefs.

 

  1. Spread the word

 

Create awareness and explain to others how we may enjoy the beauty of our reefs without damaging them. For diving and snorkelling centres, make sure the tourists are briefed and know how to dive and snorkel responsibly.

 

Learn more about responsible diving and snorkelling from our Sustainability Partner, Reef-World.  

 

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By sharing their knowledge and their passion, the diving industry has recently guided the development of nine brand new “Green Fins How-to-videos”, designed to guide business managers how to easily implement the Code of Conduct and to show divers exactly what they should expect from an environmentally friendly dive centre.

They will be completely free for anyone to see and to use; you don’t even need to be working for a Green Fins member! Just follow the Green Fins website, YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to become part of the community and see sustainable diving in action!

Video #9: Eco Friendly Cleaning Tips for Diving and Snorkelling

This video aims to show dive centre owners and/or managers simple ways in which harmful discharge can be reduced by replacing chemical cleaning products with environmentally friendly ones.

 

Video #8: How To Make Reusable Tank Caps

This video outlines the issue of using masking tape to separate tanks and provides a very simple solution to dive operators shown as a step to step guide on how to make their own tanks caps. A long-term and sustainable solution.

 

Video #7: Implement Good Garbage Management Practices

This video aims to provide management and staff with simple guidance points on how they can properly manage their garbage so that it does not contribute to the global problem of marine debris.

 

Video #6: How to Use Alternatives To Anchoring

This video aims to show dive centre management alternatives for the use of anchors. Anchoring can devastate fragile marine ecosystems in a matter of seconds, to avoid the impact on the marine environment the video shows alternatives that can be easily implemented in different locations

 

Video #5: Guiding Divers Towards Best Environmental Practice

This video aims to provide management and staff with simple guidance points on how an instructor or dive guide can correct customer behaviour underwater for best environmental practice. By clearly understanding what behaviour can cause damage to the environment and how it can be corrected, instructors and guides can help their guests protect coral reefs.

Video #4: How to Give an Environmental Boat Briefing 

Sometimes it’s difficult to believe that your actions could change whole ecosystems but divers on boats have the potential to do just that. Throwing trash, cigarettes or food waste into the ocean can poison marine life and change their behaviour. The new Green Fins How-to-video shows dive guides and managers how they can include simple, environmental reminders in their boat briefings to help divers protect the ocean and their favourite marine life.

For this year’s World Oceans Day, Green Fin asked their top members to answer the question “What do you do to protect the oceans? “

 

Video #3: Implementing Good Garbage Management on Boats

Divers travel far distances to see the most unique marine environments, they wouldn’t like to dive on a polluted ocean. As we all know, marine debris is one of the biggest problems oceans are facing and the diving industry can have a big environmental impact if no measures are taken. For this reason, the new Green Fins How-to- video covers this problem by providing practical solutions to dive centre owners and managers on ways their in boat practices can have less or no environmental impacts. By implementing these simple tips and making it clear to your staff and guests, you will be part of the solution, not the problem!

 

 

Video #2: How-to-Manage Underwater Photographers

The second Green Fins How-to-video shows divers the threat they can pose to marine life when taking a camera underwater and how dive guides and instructors can support customers to be responsible photographers. Divers rely directly on the health of the marine environment. So it’s the responsibility of the diving community to do everything within their power to protect what they love.

 

 

Video #1: Pre-Dive Environmental Briefings

The first Green Fins How-to-video showcases one of the most important things a dive centre can do to protect the ocean it depends on. It outlines exactly what a dive guide should say to inspire divers to be responsible right before jumping in the water.

The Pre-dive briefing is the perfect opportunity to learn more from their guides about how they can protect the environment, becoming a steward for the ocean and a stronger member of the diving community.

Divers rely directly on the health of the marine environment. So it’s the responsibility of the diving community to do everything within their power to protect what they love. These videos will show you how.

 

 

 

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Reducing Local and Direct Environmental Impacts Associated with Diving and Snorkelling Tourism Activities to Increase Reef Resilience

 

Maldives-coral-@-Reef-World-Foundation

Green Fins is currently active in 18 locations throughout Asia including the Maldives. Photo © The Reef-World Foundation

Location

Green Fins is currently active in six countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, The Maldives, The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam

 

The Challenge

Coral reefs are globally important ecosystems facing intense and unprecedented pressures. Major global issues like marine debris, coral bleaching and illegal fishing mean that experts predict at least 60% of the world’s coral reefs will be destroyed within the next 30 years. Meanwhile, the tourism industry dependent upon these reefs continues to show considerable economic growth. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (2014), tourism and travel sector activities generate 9.8% of GDP and support nearly 277 million people in employment, representing one in every eleven jobs globally. The World Tourism Organization predicts that, by 2020, over 1.56 billion international trips will be made each year, most of them intra-regional and with the highest numbers in Europe, followed by East Asia and the Pacific, with coastal tourism constituting a significant part of this. By Reef Resilience Program.

Find the whole article here!

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We often fin right over them on our way to the next coral head, but we can’t ignore the importance of seagrass meadows when it comes to ocean health.

seagrass meadows

If you dive in the tropics, you’re probably quite familiar with coral reefs. You know your hard corals from your soft corals and your parrotfish from your wrasse. Some of you may even know your pleurobranchs from your nudibranchs. But you may not know much about the beautiful stretches of seagrass that you sail over to reach those reefs. In reality, we can’t ignore the importance of seagrass meadows when it comes to ocean health, and we shouldn’t ignore these environments as divers. By Charlie Wiseman. Read more.

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Saving coral reefs one scuba diving centre at a time

Categories: Asia, Non-Profit, Planet, Private Sector, Sea, Water, Wildlife
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I learned to scuba dive at the age of 12 and was a diving instructor by the age of 15 – pretty unusual for a girl growing up in the middle of England!

By Chloë Harvey – Reef-World’s Programmes Manager

My underwater encounters throughout those formative teenage years inspired me to study Marine Biology at university – those, coupled with my natural (and some may say tiresome) desire to learn more about the way things work.

I started off investigating marine biological and ecological functions, but have more recently moved into the area of how the industries and human processes that thrive off marine ecosystem services, impact the sustainability of our ocean planet. scuba greenfins

Tourism is currently one of the largest and fastest growing sectors in the world, generating 10 per cent of global GDP and supporting one in every 11 jobs. The Asia and Pacific region represents the major source of tourists, as well as being the number one destination for tourists worldwide – it’s underwater diving and snorkelling adventures promise vibrant coral reefs, making it a common draw for tourists.

Having lived and worked in many popular tourist destinations across Asia, I have seen first-hand the negative impacts of booming tourism. These impacts are felt socially as well as environmentally, especially by fragile natural ecosystems like coral reefs. scuba greenfins2

In response to these negative impacts I have been working with some of the leading conservation and industry voices in the region, developing a program that supports sustainability within the diving and snorkelling industry. This programme is called Green Fins, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Reef-World Foundation led initiative. Green Fins is effecting measurable and meaningful change in core business practices and is positively influencing the way this industry works. In the below video Jim Toomey (and his cartoon friends) will take you through a fun and enchanting run through of the Green Fins approach.

Service providers are the cornerstone for sustainability and whilst diving and snorkelling activities carry significant environmental risks, if activities are well managed their opportunity to provide environmental awareness and education is enormous. There are good case studies from all over  the world highlighting how operators successfully strike a tourism/education balance. Unfortunately though, this is not commonplace.

Mass tourism often drives unsustainable practices, as businesses prioritise cashing in on the opportunity to make a quick financial gain, without consideration for the longevity of the industry.  Green Fins is working to make the industry partner with government agencies in environmental management, putting business owners in control of protecting their natural asset. The approach involves businesses voluntarily agreeing to adhere to a 15 point environmental code of conduct for diving and snorkelling activities.scuba greenfins3

The end result is a win-win – enhanced business performance and the protection of the underlying natural asset. By systematically eliminating negative environmental impacts, businesses can increase the health of coral reefs and ensure the sustainability of the ecosystem services they provide.

Businesses who are successfully applying Green Fins are also noticing a shift towards a more loyal repeat customer base that make longer stays and are willing to pay more for services. This constitutes the basic building blocks for sustainability within the industry.

The most sustainable choice no longer being a sacrifice, but the one that makes business and professional sense

The marine tourism industry is changing, and those wanting to be ahead of the game need to get on board. The change will result in the most sustainable choice no longer being a sacrifice, but the one that makes business and professional sense. Dive and snorkel industry partners and government agencies in some of the most thriving tourist destinations are using the Green Fins learning and outreach tools to apply best industry practice. Today almost 500 dive and snorkel businesses across Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines and Vietnam are leading the charge and applying Green Fins to support consistent improvement in environmental business practices.scuba greenfins4

In response to the demand, expansion to Singapore, Sri Lanka and Palau is underway, and plans for replication in the Caribbean and Mediterranean are in progress. Education and communication materials are also available in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, to ensure best practice and guidance is widely available to these growing segments of the market.

If Green Fins is available in your area, then sign up for free. If it is not available in your area then consider adopting and applying the code of conduct and guidelines within your business independently by following the dive and snorkel centre handbook.

Joining the Green Fins network means joining the only international sustainable diving and snorkelling programme, recognised by divers and leading authorities as a program which is doing exactly what it says on the tin … Greening the industry’s Fins! 

Find the original article here.

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Buying Marine Life Souvenirs

Categories: Non-Profit, Planet, Recommended Reading, Wildlife
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Although it’s natural to want to take a bit of our vacation home with us as remembrance, buying marine life souvenirs is never a good idea.

Souvenirs souvenirs_cover

Most of us never want our dive vacations to end. Leaving those sun-soaked beaches and post-dive afternoon naps is often a hard pill to swallow. So it’s natural that we want to bring home souvenirs to remind us of our trip. A beach-seller’s bracelet is a remembrance of carefree days once you return to the daily routine, and supporting local traders is a worthwhile goal. But as tourists, we must make responsible choices when it comes to shopping, taking care particularly to avoid buying marine life souvenirs. By Chloë Harvey, Programs Manager, The Reef-World Foundation. Read more.

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The Power of the Marine Tourism Industry in Fighting Climate Change

Categories: Blog Posts
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ฺby JJ Harvey, International Coordinator, Green Fins

 

marine tourism resized-james-harvey-bio-shot

It is not often that people associate the SCUBA diving industry or snorkelers with being a potential leader when it comes to fighting climate change or other marine conservation aspects in today’s climate. However, due to initiatives such as Green Fins, more and more diving and snorkelling businesses are becoming the new weapon in the fight to ensure the sustainability of one of the world’s fastest and increasingly popular activities in what is now the world’s fastest growing industry – tourism.

Green Fins is paving the way to unite politics and marine conservation efforts to ensure the sustainability of popular diving destinations around the world. Established through a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and The Reef-World Foundation, Green Fins uses a unique and proven three-pronged approach; green certifications of dive centres, strengthening regulations, and environmental education for dive staff, divers and governments. Over 400 dive and snorkel operators across six countries have signed up for free membership, and are using Green Fins as a platform to set examples of sustainable business operations. Participating members are awarded a unique certificate based on annual assessments that is co-signed by the national government, the United Nations, and The Reef-World Foundation.

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