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Marine Life & Conservation

Reef-World Foundation releases 2021 highlights in latest Annual Report

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The Reef-World Foundation – international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – has revealed the highlights and major developments in their latest 2020–2021 annual report. The report shows how the charity has had to adapt to the pandemic to continue to deliver and is determined to build back better.

While grassroots work was unable to occur throughout most of the year due to the global pandemic, digital innovations have enabled the charity to continue to help the marine tourism industry reduce its direct and local impacts on coral reefs. Through the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course, the charity continues to educate dive professionals worldwide to protect and preserve coral reefs, no matter their location. The course is now hosted independently on the newly launched Green Fins website. The revamped Green Fins website has a strong focus on increasing tourist demand for members and consolidating the charity’s digital portfolio. It is now easier for tourists to find active Green Fins members to dive with through a live member map and new content structure.

In addition, the charity developed two new guidelines for environmental best practices and four new language translations (Arabic, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish) to expand the reach of its conservation message. The new website loads faster, is more mobile-friendly and is built to scale for visitor traffic peaks. The outcome from the update is the increment in Green Fins tools and resources downloads, a growth of 45.4% from the previous year.

Key highlights include the resignation of the founder of Reef-World, Anne Paranjoti. After 24 years dedicated to helping communities to tackle the many environmental threats facing their livelihoods, she has decided to step down as Chair and Trustee. The Reef-World team will sorely miss her guidance and support. Other highlights and new developments include: expanding the Green Fins online courses to meet the demand for education on sustainable diving from recreational divers with the development of the Green Fins Diver e-Course; selected for the Beyond Tourism Innovation Challenge along with Reef Check Dominican Republic and Misión Tiburón in Costa Rica to foster innovative solutions to transform and revitalise the tourism sector.

Furthermore, there will be a significant shift for Green Fins as the charity is updating the membership structure for Green Fins members, moving towards a minimum acceptable environmental standard for dive and snorkel operators. The charity is also developing a ‘Green Fins Digital Membership’ to meet the growing demand for the Green Fins initiative and to support the national teams. All that will be accompanied by a new Green Fins logo that incorporates the Green Fins’ ethos, the vast network of country teams and members, and the initiative’s maturity.

“Community conservation is at the heart of Reef-World and Green Fins. Activities and initiatives that link communities around the world and provide open access to resources are a key part of a good future. We all have interesting days ahead. After a pandemic that has impacted all over the world, we know we have to face up to changes together and with the right view in our hearts, no matter what we start with today, we can do anything,” said Anne Paranjoti, Founder of The Reef-World Foundation.

“As we move towards 2022 at a rate of knots, we are a stronger, more dynamic and fluid team ready to take on new challenges. The biggest changes to Green Fins since its inception are about to take place and I have every confidence in our team’s ability to ensure that these changes benefit our stakeholders and prioritise coral reef health moving forwards,” said JJ Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation.

“These are difficult and uncertain times but also exciting and a real chance to maximise our potential and the impact that we can have on a global scale with a stronger and bigger team,” he added.

With 32 national and local government agencies or NGO implementing partners engaged, Green Fins now has 82 active assessors, 32% of whom are female. The Green Fins national teams are looking forward to resuming training and assessments as soon as it is possible and safe to do so. In addition, plans for Green Fins’ expansion into Japan and Colombia are in place when travel opens up again.

Chloe Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, added: “This year, we were met with challenges we couldn’t have possibly predicted. The best thing about completely being forced to erase an entire year of planned activity is that you can take stock, cut out the background noise, and work out what your stakeholders truly need from you during these difficult times. It was so uplifting to see our core Reef-World team rally together and ride on the support of our partners and network as we redirected our efforts to ensure conservation impact despite the lack of grassroots work. We go into our next operational year stronger than ever, our digital profile specifically so, and we are really excited to start the next chapter of the Reef-World adventure.”

Reef-World would also like to thank its partners whose vital support has resulted in significant tangible benefits for the ocean: PADI; The Matthew Good Foundation; 1% for the Planet; Explorer Ventures; Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS); ZuBlu; GSTC; Dive O’Clock; WildSocks and Charitable Travel.

Find the full 2020–2021 Annual Report here: https://reef-world.org/reefworld-annual-reports

Marine Life & Conservation

Help protect our marine environment with BSAC’s new Shore Surveyor course

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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

Images: Seawilding

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Marine Life & Conservation

PADI and Seiko Prospex unite to help create the world’s largest underwater cleanup for ocean change

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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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