The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – has launched a new poster on Green Fins Environmental Best Practice for Snorkellers. These guidelines help marine tourism operators inform their guests about environmental best practices while snorkelling in an effort to protect marine ecosystems.
Snorkelling is one of the most popular water sports worldwide. Unlike many other marine tourism activities, it requires minimal equipment and training, making it one of the most accessible activities for tourists to explore the underwater world. However, if not done responsibly, the cumulative impact from all snorkellers worldwide could increase pressure on the already vulnerable coral reefs. Harmful practices while snorkelling, such as fish feeding, standing on coral and chasing marine life, have been observed globally. Often, tourists aren’t aware of the negative impact of these actions.
Due to its popularity and tourism restarting in many parts of the world, The Reef-World Foundation finds it important to raise awareness and educate both marine tourism operators and tourists on conducting snorkelling activities in an environmentally friendly manner. This can help minimise the negative impact on the marine environment, encouraging the tourism industry to shape a better post-pandemic future.
Snorkelling, unlike diving, is often an unled or unsupervised activity, and in many places is not well regulated. Therefore, the Green Fins Environmental Best Practice for Snorkellers poster can also be used by tourists to equip themselves with the knowledge and guidance to limit potentially negative impacts. This enables them to enjoy the coral reefs and other marine ecosystems responsibly for years to come, including when they’re snorkelling independently without guides.
The guidance includes a wide range of recommendations adapted from the Green Fins Code of Conduct: reducing toxic chemicals from entering the ocean by using reef-safe sunscreens, abiding by the local laws, and learning how to use snorkel equipment. These recommendations are consolidated from professionals and marine tourism operators in the industry.
Chloe Harvey, Director at Reef-World, said: “Snorkelling is a fabulous way to get people into the water and enjoy the wonders of the marine environment. Such experiences are a powerful tool to inspire people to make changes to protect these vital marine resources. However, there are very few touchpoints for raising awareness of best practice along a regular snorkeller’s pathway from land to ocean. We hope that this new Green Fins Environmental Best Practice for Snorkellers will fill this gap — provide vital guidance and allow holidaymakers to enjoy snorkelling without unwittingly jeopardising the health of the very environment they have come to see.”
The Green Fins Environmental Best Practice for Snorkellers poster is available for free on the Green Fins website here.
For more information, please visit www.reef-world.org or www.greenfins.net. Dive and snorkel operators interested in signing up to Green Fins can find the membership application form at: www.greenfins.net/how-to-join.
UK Shark Fin ban moves closer to becoming law
Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation’s relentless campaigns to make Britain shark fin-free reached a new milestone last week when a private member’s bill to ban the import and export of shark fins was voted through parliament with unanimous cross-party support.
The bill is now scheduled for three readings in the House of Lords and, if successful, it will then go to King Charles for Royal Ascent and become law.
Campaign director for Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said:
“Our goal of ending Britain’s ties with the global shark fin trade is within our reach. This country has a dark history of exporting around 20 tonnes of shark fins every year and it remains legal to bring up to 20kg of dried shark fins through Customs without needing to declare it. This bill could represent a significant blow to the multi-million-pound shark fin industry. It’s now down to the House of Lords to smooth its path to the palace.”
Since July 2022 the charity has been consulting the Labour MP Christina Rees who put forward the private member’s bill after the government failed to bring its Animal Welfare Bill, that promised to ban the import and export of shark fins, into law last year.
To help improve support for the bill, Bite-Back also created a briefing document on the issues for all MPs to reference. During the bill’s final reading in the House of Commons MPs from different parties wholeheartedly endorsed the ban on the import and export of shark fins.
In her closing statement Christina Rees MP said that she hoped this bill would ‘drive up the standards of global shark conservation’.
Bite-Back will now turn its attention to educating and inspiring members of the House of Lords to vote in favour of a ban.
Follow the bill’s progress at www.bite-back.com and learn how you can get involved in supporting shark conservation initiatives in the UK.
Header image: Finned sharks underwater- Copyright – Scubazoo.
Shark Trust calls for global shark citizen scientists
The Shark Trust has launched a new smartphone app that makes it simple for everyone to get involved in shark science and conservation. The new app brings together five citizen science projects into one place, allowing users to report: shark sightings, eggcase finds, Basking Shark observations, angling catches, and incidents of shark entanglement with marine litter.
Through these projects, anyone with an interest in sharks, skates and rays can contribute to important research and have a lot of fun along the way. The findings can be submitted from anywhere in the world and will help scientists by providing a range of vital data from some of the 1200+ species of sharks, skates and rays that swim in our ocean.
As users submit their findings across the five citizen science projects, they will build a logbook of their research contributions. These are saved in their profile and shared with the wider community, so users can see what other people have recently been discovering.
Alongside this important citizen science aspect, there are also 50 collectible shark cards to unlock: 30 bronze cards, 15 silver cards, and five gold cards. Submitting to any of the projects unlocks a card at random, so you never know what you’re going to find!
The Shark Trust’s flagship citizen science project, the Great Eggcase Hunt, which encourages the public to find the empty eggcases (or mermaid’s purses) of sharks and skate on the beach or submit those seen developing in situ, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Senior Conservation Officer Cat Gordon says “We’re really excited to be celebrating the Great Eggcase Hunt’s 20th anniversary this year! As part of the celebrations, we’re releasing this brand-new citizen science app, hosting a public evening event, and planning a special edition of the Trust’s membership magazine Shark Focus. The project has grown substantially since 2003, when we received just 128 records in the first year, to having a staggering 50,212 individual eggcases recorded in 2022 alone! In total, we’ve received over 370,000 eggcases since the project began, and we hope the app inspires even more people to get out and about in search of mermaid’s purses!”
The Great Eggcase Hunt element of the app features eggcases from species which can be found in the Northeast Atlantic, as well as those in Australia (working in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). In time we will add identification materials from more regions, but until then, records can still be submitted from outside these areas. This app replaces the previous Great Eggcase Hunt app which was launched in 2014 – so if you previously used that then please delete it and download the new version!
If you are interested in sharks, skates and rays and want to help contribute towards research and conservation, the Shark Trust citizen science app is for you. Everyone from the occasional beachgoer to seasoned divers and anglers can get involved.
Paul Cox, Shark Trust CEO, says “For a while we’ve wanted to make it easier and more fun for people to identify and record their sightings. Thanks to a generous donation from Animal Friends Pet Insurance, we’ve been able to create this great tool with local gamification specialists, Kazow Games. We’re really excited to get this app out into the world and start to see more recorders getting involved with our projects.”
Search for ‘Shark Trust’ in the relevant app store, download the app today, and start recording your findings. We are already working on some exciting updates and are still welcoming feedback, so if you have opportunity to try it out, please let us know what you think!
Let’s build a global community of citizen scientists who can help protect these incredible animals together!
Find out more on the Shark Trust website.
Header image: James Harris
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