The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – has launched new guidelines to help dive and snorkel operators who are continuing to keep an environmental strategy high on their agenda despite the many changes taking place for travel businesses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
The charity has also waived its usual £20 fee for its dive and snorkel centre Operational Handbook (encouraging operators to instead ‘pay what you can’) and is reminding dive professionals they can still take the free Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course to improve their environmental knowledge and skills.
Chloe Harvey, Reef-World’s Director, said: “We appreciate that this is an incredibly tough time for the diving and snorkelling industry. The coronavirus pandemic has many negative consequences for many people but there are silver linings including the potential to ‘redefine’ the tourism industry and use this downtime to put better environmental policies in place; especially since more and more tourists are demanding sustainable practices from their providers.
“As a collaborative network we need to work together to weather this storm as best we can. That’s why Reef-World has developed new resources – and waived the usual fee for its popular Operational Handbook – to help the industry keep an environmental strategy high on their agenda, even during this difficult time. While we appreciate this is a stressful time for the travel industry, putting better environmental measures in place now will help businesses come out stronger – and with a more sustainable business – when travel restrictions are lifted.
“While we are confident that the scuba diving industry will bounce back, there is likely to be a ‘new normal’ and level of expectation in sanitisation not previously witnessed by the sector. For this reason, we have developed new guidelines to help dive and snorkel operators manage and dispose of chemical cleaning agents in an environmentally friendly way. These new guidelines are available for free to Green Fins members and non-members alike.
“We realise it might not be possible for everyone but we’d like to thank everyone who is continuing to find ways of reducing their impact on the coral reefs and related ecosystems: together, we can make both the environment and our tourism businesses more resilient.”
New Guidelines on Environmental Best Practice for Chemical Cleaning Agents
The use of chemical cleaning agents is widely regarded as the safest option when disinfecting equipment, surfaces and laundry in today’s climate. However, many cleaning and cosmetic products contain substances which are hazardous to the marine environment. As such, Reef-World has launched the Green Fins Guidelines for Environmental Best Practice for Chemical Cleaning Agents to help dive and snorkel operators deal with chemical cleaning agents in an environmentally friendly way. These recommendations are a consolidation of known best practice around the management and disposal of hazardous waste and chemicals for minimal environmental impact.
The Green Fins guidance – which should be used in addition to, not instead of, health and safety recommendations from DAN and the WHO on preventing viral spread – explains how to deal with any hazardous waste that may pose a significant threat to the marine environment.
The guidelines are available free of charge for Green Fins members and non-members alike. They can be downloaded here.
The Green Fins Operational Handbook is now free of charge
The Green Fins Operational Handbook is a one-stop-shop of information to help dive and snorkel operators who are currently reviewing their sustainability policies. While normally priced at £20, Reef-World is waiving this fee during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the dive industry can access its environmental support and tools during this difficult time. To help the charity continue its ongoing work to protect coral reefs, operators who access the handbook are asked to contribute what they can.
Access the Green Fins Operational Handbook here.
Take the Dive Guide e-Course
Dive professionals who want to continue their learning from home can also take the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course for free (or $25 if you would like a certificate). This online course helps dive professionals who want to positively influence their guests’ behaviour and protect coral reefs on every dive. It helps build on guides’ existing scuba diving knowledge by providing the skills and confidence to conduct more environmentally friendly diving trips and manage divers to prevent them causing damage.
Dive professionals can take the free Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course here.
Reef-World is also keen to reassure all Green Fins members who are not able to go through their annual assessment process that they will remain members of the Green Fins programme. Those who are not able to conduct their reassessment within the 18-month timeframe that would maintain their active membership status will be shown as inactive on the website. The ‘inactive’ status shows they have not had an assessment within the last 18 months; however, they remain Green Fins members, as has always been the case, and Reef-World is actively communicating to the public that the ‘inactive’ status is only with regards to their Green Fins status, not the status of the business. The Green Fins teams will be doing all they can to reassess members in their respective countries as soon as it is possible and safe to do so.
Review your feedback points from your latest assessment
The Reef-World Foundation would also like to remind all Green Fins members of the three feedback points they would have received by email following their latest assessment. The charity is asking operators to take this time to review and work on your feedback points. If you need any further guidance – or would like some additional points to work on – please contact your Green Fins Assessor directly.
Watch the Green Fins How-To-Videos
These videos help teach dive and snorkel operators how to improve environmental practices, such as implementing a responsible trash management policy, giving a great environmental pre-dive briefing, managing your guests (including underwater photographers) and more.
To watch the How-To videos, visit the Green Fins YouTube channel.
Dive and snorkel operators interested in signing up to Green Fins can find the membership application form here.