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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

Whale and dolphin research expedition in the Caribbean

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The three-month whale and dolphin research expedition, Ti Whale An Nou, started May 15, 2021 and the objective is to register the number of whales, specifically sperm whales, and the routes they take in the Caribbean. The results will be used to determine what is needed to protect these large mammals. This expedition is coordinated by the Caribbean Cetacean Society and is made possible thanks to the partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature Netherlands (WWF-NL) and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA).

The name of the research project Ti Whale An Nou is a mixture of French Creole and English and it means ‘our little whales’. In the Caribbean, 33 out of the 90 known species of whales have been documented, which is more than a third of the world’s total diversity. This makes the Caribbean an essential habitat. The main objectives of this study are to assess population size, distribution, movements, social structure and vocal clans of Lesser Antilles sperm whales as well as improve knowledge on the other species. Vocal clans are social groups of whales that sound acoustically similar. The biggest threats to whales are noise from ship traffic or coastal development, pollution, hunting, and by-catch.

Migration and Numbers

The research of this expedition can make an important contribution to a better understanding of the population size and distribution of whales. Similar research has been conducted in previous years. The difference with this expedition is that the research area is extended and includes the region from Saba to Anguilla. Mammal presence and absence will be monitored in the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary, around Saba, Saba Bank, St. Maarten and St. Eustatius. By comparing the results of this expedition with previously gathered data, concrete follow-up actions for the protection of the whales can be planned. This research mission receives great support by not only DCNA and WWF-NL, but from Corail Caraibes, Orange, the EDF Group Foundation, Animal Wellfare Institute, and Parc Naturel Régional de la Martinique as well.

Importance for other Caribbean islands

This research will provide an understanding of the migration routes of marine mammals and therefore an opportunity to improve the protection of these animals. A stable population of whales and dolphins is an indication of healthy oceans. In healthy oceans, fish stocks are stable which is important for the fisheries and the economy on the islands. Furthermore, whales play a significant role in capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Each great whale isolates an estimated 33 tons of CO2 on average, thus playing their part in the fight against climate change.

Photo credits: Alexis Rosenfeld – all rights reserved

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Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Kimberley Ray, Founder and CEO of Marine Conservation Network (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Kimberley Ray, Founder and CEO of Marine Conservation Network, about her work and some of the issues around marine conservation.

As Founder and CEO of Marine Conservation Network, Kimberly started her passion for ocean and marine conservation as a teenager wanting to become a dolphin trainer. Her dad was a fisherman and took her boating nearly every weekend, and that is what motivated her to get involved with marine life and education. She received her marine biology degree and quickly realized that the oceans were under threat from plastic trash, overfishing, and lack of compassion for marine life. She initially began a company called “Sustainable Seafood Experience,” but realized more coverage and education was needed concerning the many issues involving ocean conservation.

She then incorporated MCN, Marine Conservation Network, and began a global effort to link ALL conservation organizations around the world so that knowledge can be shared and efforts in marine conservation could become more effective. She also developed a common language in her efforts to educate the general public on the issues facing our oceans, one that even the public can relate to and not just other scientists. To this end, she has implemented a new focus of a Youth Ambassador Program involving children around the world from the ages of 8–15 who are becoming actively involved in marine conservation efforts and spreading the word of this mission. A scholarship is awarded to those who stay with the program when they reach their majority and go on to college. Kimberly believes that the oceans are the lungs of the planet providing half of the oxygen we breathe, and if we kill the oceans, then we will die with it.

Find out more about Kimberley and her work at www.marineconservationnet.org.


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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