Green Fins Development and Implementation
2016 was an extremely successful year for Green Fins (GF), an initiative for sustainable marine tourism supported through the UN Environment’s Global Coral Reef Partnership. Green Fins was expanded to five new locations in Malaysia, Maldives and the Philippines where the programme was already active as well as one entirely new GF country, Singapore. The Reef-World Foundation’s high quality of GF performance assessments and outreach activities was ensured throughout this rapid growth by building the capacity of three local management teams to support the active National Green Fins teams. Representatives from government and local NGOs were trained in the various threats posed by the marine tourism industry and how GF can effectively monitor and mitigate those threats.
Throughout the year, a total of 135 dive and snorkel centres were assessed for environmental impact, of which 53 were newly recruited members. Business managers received one to one consultation on possible policy changes to protect their operation and the marine resources they depend on. In conjunction with the assessments, 900 industry representatives attended 130 GF awareness-raising sessions, which detailed specific solutions to each location’s highest-ranking threats to the local environment as identified through the Green Fins assessments. 61 members received newly designed GF outreach and education packs, including an array of tools tailored to managers, dive staff, boat crew and guests.
Extensive meetings and consultations with the relevant national authorities also mean that GF activities will continue to expand to the Mediterranean, Red Sea, Caribbean and Pacific over the next few years. The global reach of the initiative will soon be matched by global memberships.
Green Fins Reaching out to new Diving Cultures
The world and its human populations are diverse and dynamic, placing immense pressure on the tourism industry to constantly adapt and evolve. GF members throughout South East Asia have noticed a recent rise in the number of tourists from countries such as China, Korea and Japan. Proximity, unique marine biodiversity and reasonable prices are just some of the reasons behind their choice. In response to this The Reef-World Foundation set out to adapt the Green Fins (GF) learning and outreach content to this emerging market to continue to influence sustainable production and consumption throughout the industry.
In order to deliver the GF sustainable diving and snorkelling message effectively there first needed to be an understanding of the culture, tendencies and knowledge of each of the markets. From June to November 2016, formal consultations were conducted with 70 representatives of the Chinese, Japanese and Korean diving industry, including dive centre owners and managers; dive guides; instructors and course directors; diving magazine editors; tour agencies and, of course, tourists. Consultations were achieved by visiting China, Japan, Malaysia and numerous GF members in the Philippines, including the popular Korean tourist destination of Mactan.
Research revealed that the cultures and diving industries of these markets vary in many ways from each other and from the more traditional industry markets. Industry representatives cited language barriers as their greatest challenge to educating all three markets on environmental standards so Reef-World commenced work on translating the entire GF website and all of its awareness raising materials into Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Japanese and Korean. A variety of new materials tailored to appeal to the cultural preferences of these markets were also developed and translated. It is hoped that these materials will provide the marine tourism industry with the support needed to portray a message of sustainable resource use to excited new divers from these cultures.
Two Minutes on Oceans with Jim Toomey – Green Fins for a Blue Planet
In 2016, The Reef-World Foundation and UN Environment partnered with syndicated cartoonist, Jim Toomey, to develop a two-minute video on Green Fins (GF) sustainable diving. GF promotes environmental awareness and stewardship within the diving and snorkelling industry. It aims to inspire actions for lasting and positive change through simple, realistic and meaningful actions. “The public is embracing dive tourism in a big way, and that’s great,” said Mr. Toomey. “However, now that we are taking to the water in such big numbers, there needs to be a set of guidelines that we can teach and follow as a dive community, if we’re going to protect our delicate coral reefs for future generations.”
This video was designed for the marine tourism industry, as well as local and national marine resource managers. Using a combination of fun illustrations and clear language, the video shows how divers, dive centre operators and owners, as well as governments can influence both the environmental and economic sustainability of their local industries.