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Marine Life & Conservation

Reef-World’s conservation impact remains strong despite global pandemic

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Reef-World’s annual report reveals tangible conservation impact despite COVID-19 disruptions

New figures out in the last few days reveal that The Reef-World Foundation – international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – certified more dive shops and reached more travellers with its conservation messaging than the previous year, despite disruptions to fieldwork caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reef-World’s annual report, released today, revealed the charity reached 115,000+ travellers with its information on environmental best practice through its Green Fins initiative during its 201920 reporting period; up from the 110,000 travellers reached during 201819. With 115 dive centres assessed in 31 diving hotspots across 11 countries (compared to 98 operators in 10 countries the previous year), the number of active members increased 42% from 118 to 168.

As well as attracting new members, the programme continues to demonstrate its success in helping marine tourism operators reduce their direct, local impact on coral reefs; with data showing an average 20% reduction in environmental impact among members.

While implementation work was unable to take place during three months of the year, due to the global pandemic, the reduction in the number of dive staff trained in person was just 6.5% (1,870+ in 201920 compared to 2,000+ in 201819). However, digital innovations have enabled the charity to continue educating dive professionals around the world, no matter their location. Over 1,140 dive professionals signed up to the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course: a unique online course which enables individual dive professionals to become Green Fins certified.

Key projects included: the launch of the Dive Guide e-Course Scholarship Fund to help scuba diving guides receive vital environmental certification; the nationwide rollout of Green Fins Egypt in partnership with the Chamber of Diving & Watersports (CDWS); a new initiative to help protect coral reefs in the Dominican Republic in partnership with the TUI Care Foundation; and creating new resources to support marine tourism operators around the world in their efforts to prioritise sustainability despite the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s more, the charity also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which shall remain in effect until December 2025, to strengthen the framework of cooperation between the two organisations for their  joint international coordination of the Green Fins initiative.

Anne Paranjoti, Founder of The Reef-World Foundation, said: “When UNEP asked me to create a framework for Green Fins back in the 1990s, I wanted to create something that would be open to all and provide a role for anyone that wanted to do something to protect the natural world around us. Today, the Green Fins tools and resources are still free for all wishing to join and provide a framework for anyone that would like to contribute and be part of a wider active community of conservators. The model underpinning Green Fins is one that allows us all to have a role –  no matter how small – in protecting the natural environment and demonstrate actions that truly promote core values and reach beyond a limited view of sustainability. The outcome is, thus, enriched lives for all and sustainability of our beautiful natural resources.”

JJ Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “Like many other charities and businesses across the travel industry, Reef-World has faced a tough time this year. Not only has the pandemic impacted our ability to conduct our environmental fieldwork but we also lost a valued mentor in the passing of our Trustee Andrea Leeman. Andy was as determined and strong-willed as the toughest out there and she would have been so proud of the conservation impact we’ve achieved despite COVID setbacks. As we move into a new normal, we’re determined to ensure sustainability remains a priority across the marine tourism industry. There are challenges ahead but we’re absolutely dedicated to protecting our precious marine ecosystems for the benefit of the local community, potential visitors, visitors and future generations.”

Chloe Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, added: “What a year it’s been – and we couldn’t have done it without you all! The generous donations and support from our partners and the general public have inspired us to continue the battle to protect our coral reefs around the world. We’d like to thank everyone for their efforts over the past year and are excited to work with you to forge a stronger path for sustainable tourism in the future. There’s much more to be done and the future is uncertain but, together, we can make sustainable diving the social norm.”  

With 33 government and NGO staff trained to run the network at a national level, Green Fins now has 82 active assessors; one quarter (26%) 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 Guam, Timor-Leste, Japan, Costa Rica and Colombia are in place for when travel opens up again.

Reef-World would also like to thank its partners whose vital support has resulted in significant tangible benefits for the ocean: PADI1% for the PlanetExplorer Ventures; the Blue O Two / Worldwide Dive and Sail alliance; Fourth ElementCaudalieProfessional SCUBA Schools International (PSS)ZuBluPATAParalenzEXO FoundationWorld Nomads and The Footprints NetworkGSTCMyDivePro; and Dive O’Clock.

The full 2019–20 Annual Report can be found here: https://reef-world.org/reefworld-annual-reports

Marine Life & Conservation

Save Our Seas Foundation announce Ocean Storytelling Photography Grant

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Stories spark the imagination and nurture ideas. They are, without doubt, our most powerful form of communicating and connecting, both with each other and with the world around us.
The Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) have a strong history of supporting marine conservation and education projects and believe that to truly translate knowledge into effective, meaningful change we must communicate through engaging stories. An inspiring or compelling story can spur positive action in ways that no presentation of facts can.

SOSF are delighted to introduce their new emerging Ocean Storyteller Grants, which will focus on photography in its inaugural year. The photography grant is led by our own director of storytelling and National Geographic photographer Thomas Peschak, in collaboration with Kathy Moran and Jennifer Samuel from National Geographic.

While they are looking specifically for photographers who can tell conservation stories about our oceans, the call is not limited to underwater photography. Applicants should think broadly – story topics can range from the animals themselves to fisheries or the communities whose lives are intertwined with marine life. Four successful grantees will each receive a fully funded assignment to shoot a conservation photo story on location (including day rate and travel), under the direct mentorship of the Ocean Storytelling Grant team.

To learn more about the grant and application process click here.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Dive Project Cornwall and PADI partner to educate the next generation of Ocean Torchbearers

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Dive Project Cornwall’s vision is simple – eliminate plastic pollution and protect the marine environment to save all life in our oceans for future generations to enjoy and cherish. 

“We are delighted to be working with PADI as a key partner to deliver Dive Project Cornwall, a new not-for-profit community interest organsiation,” says Andy Forster, Project Director of Dive Project Cornwall. “For a long time, I have considered it should be the right of every child to walk on a beach and feel the sand between their toes. Dive Project Cornwall aims to give young people that experience and take it one step further: giving them sight of the amazing underwater world. 

Through their own appreciation of the wonders of the marine environment, we inspire thought as to how we will look after our beaches and oceans and preserve them for future generations to enjoy. The success of this lies in educating hundreds of thousands of young people today, and we are delighted to be able to launch a comprehensive introduction to the ocean and marine conservation for young people and adults alike, in the form of Dive Project Cornwall.”

The plight of our world’s oceans is well documented, and through its global network of torchbearers, PADI® is committed to playing a prominent role in taking action to heal the planet, shining a light on what’s possible, and leading communities towards a sustainable future. The collaboration between PADI and Dive Project Cornwall brings this shared ocean conservation mission to life. 

Dive Project Cornwall will educate hundreds of thousands of young people by delivering an education programme directly into schools across the UK, raising the awareness of the importance of the planet’s marine environment and its vital role in our very existence.

At the heart of Dive Project Cornwall is a competition for 400 lucky teenagers to win the experience of a lifetime; a 6-day, life-changing trip to Cornwall where they will learn to scuba dive, enjoy outdoor adventures, take up beach-related activities and attend presentations from leading marine industry experts. The aim is for these teenagers to become PADI Open Water Divers and PADI Torchbearers – ocean influencers who positively engage, inspire and motivate the next generation to save our planet.

PADI is delighted to partner with Dive Project Cornwall to provide the 400 winning students with PADI Open Water Diver eLearning. PADI Dive Centres in Cornwall will work with the students to complete their in-water training and PADI certification. Scuba diving opens up the underwater world for young people and helps them to develop an understanding and appreciation for it, inspiring them to want to explore and protect it.

“Saving the ocean requires all of us to act together, and it’s crucial that we engage the younger generation in this work. Partnering with Dive Project Cornwall enables PADI to deliver such an important project, educating young people in the UK on the far-reaching impact that local action can have,” said Rich Somerset, Territory Director, PADI EMEA.

Dive Project Cornwall are currently looking for sponsors, media partners and collaborating charities to build the project to formal launch across the UK in January 2022. To find out more and get involved visit www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk or email Andy Forster andy@diveprojectcornwall.co.uk

“We look forward to working with PADI and all of our sponsors (those already on board and those to come) to positively engage, inspire and motivate the next generation to save our planet,” says Forster.

For more info visit www.diveprojectcornwall.co.uk or www.padi.com

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