Coral Reefs Guidelines News

Scuba Divers Can Now Become Environmentally Certified Through Green Fins

Jeff Hester | Ocean Image Bank

Improving environmental standards is critical because 70% of divers contact the reef while diving and 36% are unaware of doing so

The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinator of Green Fins – is pleased to announce the launch of the new Green Fins Diver e-Course. This new online course is designed to help recreational divers protect coral reefs by learning how to conduct more environmentally friendly dives.

Improving the behaviour of recreational divers is critical for the survival of coral reefs because an average of 70% of divers contact the reef while diving. What’s more, divers contact the reef an average of 5.79 times per dive and 36% of those who contacted the reef were unaware they did so. The cumulative impact is significant: over one million new divers are certified annually and ‘on-reef’ tourism is valued at USD $19 billion per year. If these millions of divers learn how to be more environmentally aware and have zero impact dives, it would have a huge impact on the protection of our precious coral reefs for future generations.

All divers, whether professional or recreational, can minimise their impact on the ocean by following environmental best practice while diving. The new Green Fins Diver e-Course is the only course which teaches scuba divers how to prevent diving-related damage to coral reefs by following the highest environmental standards, as set out by the Green Fins initiative. It teaches divers how to behave on the reef to prevent them causing environmental damage; helping to protect coral and other marine life one dive at a time. Divers around the world can take this course for just £19 (approx. USD $27) by enrolling here.

Green Fins Code of Conduct | The Reef World Foundation


Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. Even a small breakage from an errant fin kick can cause damage that takes months to recover from; not to mention other negative actions above the water such as littering or buying souvenirs made of marine life. On heavily dived reefs, the cumulative impact of unmanaged tourism can be huge. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or run-off from land containing pollutants and plastic debris as well the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures. Research has shown divers who receive environmental information and understand their potential impact on reefs cause significantly less damage to coral.

Following 2019’s successful Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course, the Green Fins Diver e-Course now enables Reef-World to meet the demand for education about sustainable diving from recreational divers. The new course covers straightforward techniques such as best environmental practices from equipment care to underwater photography, above and below the water, which are proven to reduce the level of environmental damage associated with diving.

The course provides divers with three online modules of easy-to-follow content followed by corresponding tests on an intuitive, user-friendly platform:

  • Module 1: an introduction to coral reef biology, global and local threats to the marine environment and the Green Fins approach.
  • Module 2: management techniques above water, such as how to prepare and plan an environmentally friendly dive trip: from booking your trip at home to best practices on the boat and caring for your equipment post dive.
  • Module 3: applying best diving practices below water on every dive, learning tips for diving with the least environmental impact and how to have longer marine life interactions as well as how to be an environmentally responsible underwater photographer. Finally, suggesting ways in which divers can use the best practices they have learned and contribute to citizen science projects.

There is a short test at the end of each module which diver must pass in order to finish the course.

The Reef World Foundation


The course is available for £19 (approx. USD $27) and, on completion, students will receive a personalised electronic certificate, which is valid for two years and can be displayed as a stamp of individual awareness. The course content will be updated regularly with the latest industry knowledge about environmental best practice so after two years students are encouraged to retake the course to refresh their skills. The proceeds from course certificates support Reef-World’s work to implement the Green Fins programme around the world. Divers who cannot afford to take the course can apply for the Green Fins Diver e-Course Scholarship Fund to receive the certification free of charge.

Gabriel Grimsditch, marine ecosystems expert at the UN Environment Programme, said: “The Green Fins Diver e-Course is more critical than ever to help ensure the survival of reefs and the diving industry. Divers now have a clear roadmap to champion environmental sustainability as our tourism industries build back better.”

JJ Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “The Green Fins Diver e-Course enables divers from all backgrounds to become more environmentally aware, understand the main environmental threats posed by scuba diving and be able to minimise those threats. We’re so proud of the results from our 2019 course and we’re excited that we can now also meet demand from recreational divers worldwide who want to reduce their negative impact on the coral reefs they visit.”

Green Fins is the only internationally recognised environmental standard for dive and snorkel operators, established through a partnership between the UN Environment Programme and The Reef-World Foundation. Green Fins uses a unique and proven three-pronged approach; green certifications of dive centres, strengthening regulations and environmental education for dive staff, divers and government.

For more information, or to sign up for the Green Fins Diver e-Course please visit:

Green Fins Boat Briefing | The Reef World Foundation

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