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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.


Sustainable Scuba, not just coral reefs!

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Sustainable Scuba: SCUBA

Image Source: SEVENSEAS

Say SCUBA and most people will immediately see coral reefs, possibly whale sharks and maybe a tiny island topped by palms in the background. Well… it didn’t really begin like that, and still tropics are only a part of the story. SCUBA diving was actually born in temperate waters, based on technical innovation brought about by the Second World War. It wasn’t until the advent of affordable long-haul flights and easy-to-operate, reliable equipment that tropical seas became the major destination for recreational diving. By Martina Milanese, on behalf of Green Bubbles RISE.

Continue reading on SEVENSEAS!


Green Bubbles has teamed up with Green Fins.



Categories: Green Tips, Uncategorized
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Image credit: Reef-World Foundation.

Every diver should be environmentally conscious. After all, divers live to experience the beauty of our oceans – and therefore must respect and protect them. They should not be an alternative group of divers but rather, the norm.

Diving and snorkelling is a huge industry worldwide and the primary reason for travel for many tourists. One of the most famous examples is the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, which receives around 2 million visitors each year.

Taking a closer look at the statistics: if on average, a single diver contacts a reef 24 times per hour – and that if just 30 divers are on that site in one hour over 700 contacts could be made, then the potential for damage to reefs over the course of time can be catastrophic. Moreover, with the threat of climate change, our reefs are facing coral bleaching, a phenomenon that occurs when algae – a coral’s primary source of food – leaves a coral, causing it to become stressed and more vulnerable.

It is up to both divers as well as dive operators to take responsibility.

For environmentally conscious divers – happy reefs start with the selection of an environmentally conscious dive operator. This demand will push other operators that are not up to standard out of business or better yet, force them to be more sustainable.

Environmentally conscious dive operators must follow best practices, such as the Green Fins practices, to ensure that their divers are environmentally conscious both in and out of the water through education and awareness of the issues the reefs they are coming to experience face.

A great first step towards ensuring more environmentally conscious divers is to check out the Green Fins website, which contains a wealth of resources to get started.



Top Tips for Environmentally Conscious Divers

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Environmentally Conscious Divers

Anemone,or Actinia home or clownfish, urticante marine animal

Signs of environmental damage are everywhere underwater: scars from dynamite fishing, ghost nets, and anchor damage are common in some areas, not to mention the distinct lack of sharks or the broader effects of a warming planet. Becoming environmentally conscious divers is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness about these issues, not only among divers, but also among your non-diving friends. By Samantha Craven, Scuba Diver Life. Read more.

Image source: Green Fins.

Image source: Green Fins.

The draw of healthy, biodiverse coral reefs compels many divers to travel around the world but, as divers, we know all too well that our reefs are under threat. We also know that divers offer some of the world’s most passionate voices for marine conservation and ocean protection. By Samantha Craven. Read more.


This self-assessment checklist has been developed to help you assess where your company stands in integrating responsible environmental practices. The initial 13 questions are relevant to all forms of marine recreation, while three additional sections offer supplemental questions for providers in specific sectors: interactive marine wildlife trips, recreational fishing, and snorkeling, diving and scuba.    Each question addresses a key issue and proposes a good practice. In addition to providing a useful tool to marine recreation providers, this checklist is being used by major tourism companies, including tour operators, cruise lines and hotels, to identify and select responsible service providers.




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