Sustainable marine tourism is receiving a major boost with the launch of the Green Fins Hub, a global digital platform for diving and snorkelling operators worldwide. The industry-backed digital platform is expected to scale up reach from about 700 operators across 14 countries today to a potential 30,000 worldwide, thus increasing coral protection and conservation worldwide.
The Green Fins Hub is the first-ever global marine tourism industry platform, helping operators to make simple, cost-efficient changes to their daily practices by utilising tried and tested solutions, keep track of their annual improvements and communicate with their communities and customers. The tool has been developed by The Reef-World Foundation in partnership with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to overcome the biggest sustainability challenges in the marine conservation tourism industry.
“Coral reefs, home to at least 25 per cent of marine life, are the mecca for marine-related tourism, contributing up to 40 per cent or more of the gross domestic product in some island nations. However, they are a most vulnerable ecosystem, especially to climate change with the difference between a global temperature rise of 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius being existential for reefs,” said Leticia Carvalho, Principal Coordinator, Marine and Freshwater at UNEP. “Increasing accessibility of best practice, knowledge and citizen science through this global digital hub can be a game changer in ensuring a future for coral reefs and other fragile marine ecosystems.”
The Green Fins Hub is the latest development by The Reef-World Foundation to meet a growing industry demand for environmentally-friendly underwater sports. The foundation recently surveyed over 2,400 dive tourists and professionals, of whom 83 per cent said they are looking for further sustainability education on their holiday, 75 per cent said they would pay more for it, but 85 per cent said that they find it difficult to see if an operator is sustainable.
The Green Fins Hub is intended to catalyse a seismic shift towards sustainability in the marine tourism sector, by hosting two types of Green Fins membership:
Digital membership that will be available to dive, snorkel and liveaboard operations globally. Throughout every year of membership, operators will receive environmental scores based on a detailed online self-evaluation and progress made on their action plans.
Green Fins Certified Members will continue to be assessed annually and trained in person at their operation. The assessment process will continue to be based on set criteria using a scoring system (0-330 point system, with a low score implying low impact of a business on coral reefs). As part of the Green Fins Hub, there will now be a minimum threshold (>200 of a maximum environmental impact score) for becoming a Green Fins Certified Member and a ranking of bronze, silver or gold certified members according to performance.
Additional features on the Hub include:
The Green Fins Community Forum for operators around the world to raise industry needs, discuss environmental issues and share lessons and ideas with like-minded industry leaders, NGOs and governments. For example, dive centres experiencing outbreaks of invasive species like the Crown-of-Thorns Seastar (COTS) at their dive sites can use the forum to gain the resources and expertise to take immediate conservation action.
The Green Fins Solutions Library gives access to over 100 proven environmental solutions to common daily operational challenges, tried and tested by the Green Fins network for over two decades.
The Action Plan: Members will receive an annual sustainability action plan with set goals. An advanced user interface now allows them to track their progress over time.
The Green Fins Hub has been co-created with key industry partners from around the world, to ensure it meets the needs of our stakeholders. Diver training agency, PADI, and its network have pioneered and financially backed this project from its inception. In addition, industry leaders including training agencies PSS, RAID, diver insurance company DAN, dive holiday booking platforms such as ZuBlu and PADI Travel, and a series of Green Fins Members from around the world have helped shape the platform throughout development.
Katie Thompson Global Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at PADI said, “As the world’s leading initiative dedicated to environmental guidelines that promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling industry, we knew that to reduce the global environmental footprint of scuba diving, we had to work closely with Reef-World’s Green Fins initiative. Since the beginning of our partnership in 2018, it’s been a major priority for us to make sure that all 6,600+ PADI Members across the globe have access to the low-cost and practical support that Green Fins membership provides. That’s why we have worked together to conceptualise and refine Green Fins Hub; now every one of our amazing PADI Members can join a community committed to positive change, and work towards a more sustainable future one step at a time.”
The development of the Green Fins Hub has been supported by numerous partners, another indication of the need for such a sustainability tool. Significant support was received from the Inter-American Development Bank through the Beyond Tourism Challenge, UNEP, the Matthew Good Foundation and Conservation X Labs.
“The Green Fins Hub is the solution the scuba diving industry needs to push sustainability efforts forward,” said Adam Broadbent, founder of ZuBlu, a leading dive travel booking platform “By digitalising environmental goal tracking, centralising countless sustainability resources, and encouraging collaboration between operators, the Hub is empowering us all to create a greener future for the big blue we all love.”
“We are very excited about this new development from Green Fins,” says Anais Lefrere, Business Development Manager at DUNE United, an international network of Liveaboards and Dive Centres. “The self-evaluation model on the Green Fins Hub will help us to identify environmental challenges within each of our partner operations and provide step by step support in addressing these. This will ultimately help us to mainstream environmental considerations across our whole brand and help us to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability.“
Help protect our marine environment with BSAC’s new Shore Surveyor course
BSAC has partnered with Scottish environmental charity, Seawilding, to offer everyone the chance to help champion the marine environment with the new Shore Surveyor course.
Delivered by eLearning, Shore Surveyor has been designed to engage people, particularly children and young people, in the issues that face our precious marine life. With a focus on the UK’s native oyster and seagrass beds, this eLearning course equips participants with the skills needed to help identify seashore-based habitats and record what they find.
Shore Surveyor is open to everyone, whether they are BSAC members or not.
Working with Seawilding, the UK’s first community-led native oyster and seagrass restoration project, Shore Surveyor participants will also learn about the native oyster and seagrass beds and the issues they currently face.
Both the UK’s native oyster and seagrass habitats have experienced a serious decline over the past 200 years, resulting in an estimated 95% reduction in populations. The new Shore Surveyor course ties directly into BSAC’s major new marine project, Operation Oyster, which aims to protect and restore native oyster habitats around the UK.
By the end of the course, participants can become ‘citizen scientists’ by helping to locate and record seashore areas where current or potential native oysters or seagrass populations are present. This data can then be fed into the National Marine Records Database to help scientists studying our coast as well as support future underwater surveys.
Seawilding CEO, Danny Renton, said he was delighted to partner with BSAC on the Shore Surveyor course.
“Our seas are in peril, and it’s so important to engage families and especially young people, in the wonders of the sea and to engage them in marine conservation. The Shore Surveyor course is the first step to get involved in initiatives like seagrass and native oyster restoration and to nurture a new generation of ocean activists, environmentalists and marine biologists.”
BSAC’s Chief Executive, Mary Tetley, said the new Shore Surveyor course was also part of BSAC’s drive to get more young people actively involved in marine life protection.
“This new course not only explores the threats faced by our precious oceans but also empowers people to get directly involved.
“From a family visit to the beach to a club diving or snorkelling trip, the skills learned on Shore Surveyor can be invaluable to anyone, young or not so young, who wants to make a difference to our under-pressure marine life.”
One of the first participants of the Shore Surveyor course, 16-year-old Lili, from North Wales, has recently put her new found surveying skills into action while on her summer holidays.
“I loved it because it was simple and easy to use and remember,” said Lili. “All ages will enjoy it – young children, teenagers, parents, even grandparents.
“There is a bit of eLearning to do before you start but that is easy to do, and the course really helps you when you go out and see everything for real on the beach!”
Shore Surveyor is open to children aged eight up to adults and costs £20. For more information and to book onto the eLearning course, go to bsac.com/shoresurveyor.
For more information on Operation Oyster and other ways you can get involved, go to bsac.com/operationoyster
PADI and Seiko Prospex unite to help create the world’s largest underwater cleanup for ocean change
PADI® and Seiko Prospex are teaming up to help marine conservation charity Oceanum Liberandum host the world’s largest underwater cleanup event in Sesimbra, Portugal on 24 September 2022.
Taking place during AWARE Week, the event aims to bring together 700 divers to clean up the coastline for a 12-hour period and is anticipated to host the most divers ever on record taking part in one consecutive underwater cleanup effort. Participating divers and dive centres from around the region will come together to collect marine debris–which will ultimately be logged into PADI’s Dive Against Debris database.
“Our database is the world’s largest in terms of capturing seafloor debris data, which has already helped drive two pioneering scientific papers being used to create new waste management policies,” says Emma Daffurn, CSR Specialist for PADI Worldwide. “More than 250 million tons of plastic are estimated to make its way into our ocean by 2025 and the environmental damage caused by plastic debris alone is estimated at $13 billion US a year. This world record attempt further highlights the important role divers play in reporting, removing and advocating to stop marine debris at its source.”
PADI is proud to have Seiko Prospex on board as the sponsor of the marine debris program and a partner for this world record attempt. Their support is critical to advancing the PADI Blueprint for Ocean Action, and protecting the global ocean now and for generations to come.
“Helping to raise awareness and take an active role in environmental conservation has become one of Seiko Prospex’s missions,” says Miguel Rodrigues, Sales & Marketing Director for Seiko Prospex. “We seek, whenever possible, to support events that have ocean conservation at their core, and we are very honored to sponsor the world’s largest underwater cleanup. We are proud to contribute to a more sustainable future where humans are an integral part of nature.”
Those who want to volunteer to take part in the world record attempt can learn more and sign up at oceanumliberandum.pt/en/Largest-Underwater-cleanup-in-the-World/. The 15 euro registration fee will go towards supporting dive centres with boats, facilities and air bottle logistics.
“We’re thrilled to have the chance to work with Seiko in supporting the largest underwater cleanup event so that we can mobilise Ocean TorchbearersTM to take action to protect what they love, capture more essential data for policy changes, and continue the wave of momentum in creating positive ocean change,” says Daffurn.
For more from PADI, visit www.padi.com
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