|“To protect and conserve coral reefs by establishing and implementing environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling industry.”
A unique project that works on a multitude of platforms, the Green Fins project, an initiative of United Nations Environment Programme – Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (UNEP-COBSEA), has seen many successes since its inception in 2004. Operating in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and more recently the Maldives and Vietnam, this project aims to bring together passionate individuals in the public and private sector, cross cutting with NGO’s to effectively reduce the negative impacts of the diving and snorkelling industries on the marine environment.
This project is managed autonomously in each country by a team made of national and local government representatives, NGO’s and volunteers, and is overseen and supported by the International Coordinators of the project, The Reef-World Foundation, who have been working alongside UNEP-COBSEA since 2004.
At the heart of this project is the Code of Conduct, a comprehensive set of environmental standards that uses qualified coordinators to train the tourism sector. Coordinators visit member dive centres or snorkel operators and provide a one hour presentation that is specific to their diving location. During this opportunity, supportive toolkits, in the form of posters and information booklets as well as promotion materials such as Green Fins icons, cloth bags and t-shirts are handed out to further support the members in adhering to the Code of Conduct.
The project is effectively monitored in each country using the Reef-World GEARS system, Green Environmental Assessment Rating System, which is the accepted and adopted standard for monitoring the successful implementation of the project and is used to highlight industry wide threats through a simple Green, Yellow and Red rating system. These threats are then targeted through a collaborative approach within the diving industry and the local government departments responsible, including the country’s Green Fins National Team.
The project often has many ‘spin-off’ achievements within the community helping to inspire and empower those responsible for managing and governing their marine resources for a sustainable future. These are often done through a series of environmental activities, such as beach and underwater reef clean-ups, education and awareness campaigns and recycling activates, to name but a few.
For further details and to find out more about Green Fins, please visit their website at www.greenfins.net or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photos are courtesy of Reef World.