The Reef-World Foundation is delighted to announce that Jordan is now the 15th country globally to implement the Green Fins programme — a UN Environment Programme initiative. The programme’s launch in Aqaba is evidence of Jordan’s commitment to safeguarding its natural resources and promoting sustainable tourism as the country builds its reputation as a world-class diving destination.
Green Fins is implemented in the country by Aqaba Special Economy Zone Authority (ASEZA) with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) through the “Employment-oriented MSME promotion” project on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), with the ultimate aim of improving the communication of environmental best practice from local diving centres to environmentally conscious tourists to help protect the environment.
Dominik Lee Zaax Wyszogrodzki, Green Fins Local Team Leader, said: “Divers are willing to pay more for services provided by dive centres that follow environmental regulations, and they expect dive centres to be leading the way in protecting the ocean. Implementing Green Fins in Aqaba is going to open us up to new markets and bring us to be one of the top diving destinations in the world.”
Following a week of training by an all-female-led training team from Reef-World (10 to 15 June 2023), Jordan now has a national Green Fins team comprised of five fully certified Green Fins Assessors and two Green Fins Coordinators from representatives of the Royal Jordanian Navy Forces, Aqaba Marine Reserve and the University of Jordan made up of a diverse group of local diving experts, environmentalists, and industry leaders. The Green Fins Jordan team is led by Ms Thelma Redwan, the Product Director at ASEZA, who coordinates the programme in collaboration with The Reef-World Foundation, GIZ, and other stakeholders.
The newly established local Green Fins team will be responsible for recruiting, assessing, training and certifying dive and snorkel operators to become Green Fins Members in the country. This involves providing training about the ecology and threats to coral reefs, advice for adopting simple and practical solutions to these threats and guidance to the Green Fins’ environmental standards for dive and snorkel operators. Green Fins membership will help marine tourism operators identify priority areas to improve their business sustainability performance and communicate their commitment to following environmental best practices as a way of attracting eco-minded tourists.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Jordan to the Green Fins network as the fifteenth country to adopt the initiative to secure the future sustainability of their marine tourism industry,” said Chloe Harvey, Executive Director of The Reef-World Foundation. “ASEZA has shown exceptional leadership in recognising the opportunity to establish best environmental practice among their diving community with Green Fins. Jordan is a unique diving destination and home to a bountiful array of marine life. Our coral reefs are in serious trouble; it’s possible that coral reefs globally could be lost in our lifetime. Reducing local, direct threats to coral reefs, such as those posed by diving and snorkelling activities, will significantly improve their chance of survival.”
Diving and snorkelling-related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider threats, such as those associated with overfishing or plastic debris and the effects of climate change. Based on robust individual assessments of business practices, the Green Fins initiative helps identify high-risk activities. The assessors then work with participating business leaders to build and commit to a tailored sustainability action plan to address these risks. Through Green Fins implementation in Jordan, Reef-World aims to improve the sustainability of the diving industry in the region by working with 15 marine tourism operators, training 75 dive guides and raising awareness of sustainability best practices among 15,000 tourists in the first year of implementation.
Abdullah, Manager at Red Sea Dive Center, said: “I signed up for the Green Fins membership and got the help and support of the Green Fins team. I saw how thorough the process was and all the things they do on the assessment day. Now I’m convinced it’s an amazing programme that could really help the environment and one I’m very proud to be part of!”
Green Fins is a UN Environment Programme initiative, internationally coordinated by The Reef-World Foundation, which aims to protect and conserve coral reefs through environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling tourism industry. Green Fins provides the only internationally recognised environmental standards for the diving and snorkelling industry and has a robust assessment system to measure compliance.
To date, four dive operators in Aqaba have joined the global network of 700+ trained and assessed Green Fins Members. These are: Aqaba Adventure Divers, Arab Divers, Coral Garden Diving Center and Red Sea Dive Center.
For more information, please visit www.reef-world.org or www.greenfins.net/countries/jordan. Dive and snorkel operators in Jordan interested in becoming Green Fins Members can sign up at: www.greenfins.net/register or contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Project SIARC through to the finals of The National Lottery Awards
Project SIARC has been nominated alongside 16 other projects from across the UK to be named National Lottery Project of the Year.
The marine environment in Wales is teeming with life; beneath the often-murky waters are little understood species of shark, skate and ray (elasmobranchs) of conservation importance.
Project SIARC is catalysing links between fishers, researchers, communities and government to collaborate and safeguard elasmobranchs and support a green recovery in Wales.
“We are so grateful for this nomination – it’s thanks to all of our wonderful communities, partners and volunteers working with us to help safeguard and celebrate sharks, skates and rays in Wales”, commented Project SIARC Technical Specialist and regular Scubaverse contributor Jake Davies.
For more information about Project SIARC, visit https://www.projectsiarc.com/.
Silent Reef Keepers: The Fight to Save the Caribbean Reef Shark
The Kingdom of the Netherlands will ask for increased protection for the Caribbean reef shark during next month’s Conference of Parties for the Cartagena Convention (COPs) on Aruba. Caribbean reef sharks play a critical role in maintaining a healthy reef ecosystem and building resilience within the oceans. This increased protection is critical for ensuring a sustainable future for this iconic species.
The Caribbean Sea is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and a dazzling array of marine life. Among the charismatic inhabitants of this underwater paradise is the Caribbean Reef Shark (Carcharhinus perezii), a species that plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of coral reef ecosystems. In the Dutch Caribbean, these apex predators face mounting threats, but there is hope on the horizon. At the upcoming Conference of Parties for the Cartagena Convention (COPs), the Kingdom of the Netherlands will seek increased protection for these magnificent creatures by listing this species on Annex III of the SPAW Protocol. Annex III includes plant and animal species which require additional protection to ensure this species is able to adequately recover their populations in the Wider Caribbean Region.
Caribbean reef sharks thrive in warm, tropical waters of the Caribbean region, with a distribution range that stretches from Florida to Brazil. This species is one of the most encountered reef shark species throughout the whole Caribbean Sea. Growing up to 3m (9.8ft) in length, this shark is one of the largest apex predators in the reef ecosystem and is at the top of the marine food web, having only a few natural predators.
In addition to being of great economic value, as shark diving is a major draw for divers from around the world, this species is also critical for maintaining balance within the reef ecosystem. Their presence helps regulate the population of smaller prey species, which in turn, prevents overgrazing on seagrass beds and coral reefs and eliminates sick or weak fish from the population. This balance is essential for maintaining the health and diversity of the entire coral reef.
Despite their ecological and economic significance, Caribbean reef sharks in the Caribbean face numerous threats that have led to a population reduction estimated to be between 50–79% over the past 29 years. In the (Dutch) Caribbean this is mainly caused by:
Habitat Degradation: The degradation of coral reefs and seagrass beds due to climate change, pollution, and coastal development has a direct impact on the availability of prey for these sharks. Loss of habitat reduces their ability to find food and shelter.
Overfishing: Overfishing poses one of the most immediate threats to Caribbean reef sharks. They are often caught incidentally in commercial fisheries, where fishermen are targeting other species, or intentionally, where they are sought after for their fins, used in shark fin soup.
A Call for Increased Protection
There are different organizations and individuals working to protect sharks and their habitats in the Dutch Caribbean. A significant milestone was the establishment of protected areas such as the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary between Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius. Another milestone was in 2019 when the Dutch government adopted an International Shark Strategy. The strategy sets out which protective and management actions for sharks and rays are to be taken by the government in all seas and oceans where the Netherlands has influence (including the Dutch Caribbean). Additional efforts are still needed to create more marine protected areas, enhance enforcement, reduce pollution in the ocean, and promote sustainable fishing practices. These species know no (political) boundaries and their protection requires broadscale conservation efforts within the Dutch Caribbean and beyond.
The Caribbean reef shark is a species of paramount importance to the (Dutch) Caribbean’s coral reefs. With the extra protection being requested during the next COPS meeting in Aruba, there is hope that this species will have a healthy future. By recognizing their ecological significance and the challenges they face, we can work together to ensure a brighter future for the Caribbean Reef Shark in the Dutch Caribbean and beyond.
The Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) supports science communication and outreach in the Dutch Caribbean region by making nature-related scientific information more widely available through amongst others the Dutch Caribbean Biodiversity Database, DCNA’s news platform BioNews and the press. This article contains the results from several scientific studies but the studies themselves are not DCNA studies. No rights can be derived from the content. DCNA is not liable for the content and the in(direct) impacts resulting from publishing this article.
Photo + photo credit: Jim Abernethy-all rights reserved
For more information, please contact: research@DCNAnature.org
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