PRESS RELEASE: ZuBlu and Reef-World partner to save our reefs

PRESS RELEASE: ZuBlu and Reef-World partner to save our reefs

ZuBlu is a travel platform providing scuba divers and marine-enthusiasts with a simple yet intuitive way to discover and book exciting experiences across Asia. The website marries a powerful search tool with an exciting range of dive destinations and eco-friendly resorts and operators, putting the power of discovery and choice into the hands of ZuBlu’s guests.

We’re thrilled to announce that ZuBlu has become a Symbiotic Partner of The Reef-World Foundation, the international coordinators of the Green Fins initiative. This collaboration aims to change diving and snorkelling tourist’s behaviour and attitude towards coral reefs and the marine environment. The dive starts at home; every decision we make in the planning of our holidays can make a difference for the marine environment. ZuBlu and Reef-World are working together so that environmental considerations can be taken to reduce impact on coral reefs from the very early stages of the dive planning process.

 Photo courtesy of ZuBlu

Photo courtesy of ZuBlu

Divers booking through ZuBlu already have access to information on the sustainability practices and conservation projects run by their featured resorts, ensuring that they are able to be agents of change for the environment through their consumer choices. Under this new partnership, guests will also receive the tools to dive even deeper; not just driving sustainability through purchasing power but also by understanding what behaviours and individual actions they can do through Green Fins messaging. By choosing sustainable providers and adopting environmental best practice in the water, divers do even more to protect the dive sites they enjoy.

This partnership with The Reef-World Foundation is also set to support the financial sustainability of the Green Fins initiative – guests booking with a Green Fins member through ZuBlu will be given the option to donate, and these donations will be matched by ZuBlu. In addition, new updates to the platform in early Q1 2019 will allow users, in their quest to find an incredible yet sustainable underwater adventure, to filter their search results solely on Green Fins.

ZuBlu joins a growing number of conscious and committed companies that are partnering with Reef-World and prove that business and environmental stewardship can be mutually beneficial. They are leading the way to a future where sustainable diving is the social norm, protecting reefs for future dives and generations to come.

 Photo courtesy of ZuBlu

Photo courtesy of ZuBlu

For more information contact Klementina Dukoska (klementina@reef-world.org) and Adam Broadbent (adam@zubludiving.com)

  

 About Reef-World

The Reef-World Foundation is a UK registered charity that operates internationally to support governments and communities in sustainable consumption and production of coastal resources and marine life. Reef-World are a technical implementing agency of the UN Environment for the Green Fins initiative, which focuses on driving environmentally friendly SCUBA diving and snorkelling practices across the industry globally.

Green Fins is a proven approach to reduce the threats and pressures from the SCUBA diving and snorkelling industry such as anchoring, chemical pollution and diver damage to coral reefs through providing training and tools to the businesses who are in a position to act. Look for the Green Fins logo when booking your next dive trip and visit www.greenfins.net and www.reef-world.org to learn more.

 

About ZuBlu

ZuBlu is a new dive travel platform that puts the power of discovery and choice into the hands of its guests. With its unique species search tool, up-to-date and accurate information and a commitment to conserving the marine environment, ZuBlu aims to become the leading dive travel agency for destinations in Asia and create positive change in the destinations featured on the ZuBlu platform. Discover and book your diving adventure at www.zubludiving.com now.

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: How To Unlock the Potential of the Ocean Conscious Business Model

PRESS RELEASE: How To Unlock the Potential of the Ocean Conscious Business Model

Industry Leaders Sponsor First-Ever #BlueGreen Seminar Series to 
Help Dive Operators Thrive in Profound Change 


(Las Vegas, NV – Oct 30, 2018) -- A series of first-ever seminars will be presented at DEMA Show 2018 to help dive businesses embrace the fundamental changes impacting the industry right now.  Leaders across all segments of the diving industry, from the dive operations to manufacturers, to resorts to online booking agents, will benefit from this #BlueGreen seminar series.

Sponsored by Fourth Element, Stream2Sea, Lembeh Resort, and Critters@Lembeh, the seminars will explain the key consumer and business trends dive pros need to know about to thrive, and learn how an ocean-conscious approach will address these major changes, and unlock a myriad of untapped scalable opportunities. 

First-Ever Introduction to Green Fins at #DEMAShow 2018
In the seminars, presented by Blue Ocean Network and The Reef-World Foundation, Attendees will learn how to make simple operational shifts using a proven and measurable approach called Green FinsThis is the first time that attendees will catch a glimpse of the Green Fins approach at the DEMA Show.

With a 15-year proven track record, Green Fins is a free system already adopted by 600+ dive operators. Green Fins is a UN Environment initiative managed by The Reef-World Foundation, an NGO tasked with implementing the Green Fins approach at dive operations worldwide.

Programmes Manager at The Reef-World Foundation, Chloe Harvey says, “The Dive Operators we work with are testimony to what Green Fins and an ocean-conscious business model can do. These businesses are engaging better staff, reducing costs, protecting dive sites and invigorating existing markets. And that’s just the beginning.”

Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Green Fins Operators
Chloe Harvey will give attendees behind the scenes insights into her ten years working with dive operations. Attendees will dive into the inner workings of Green Fins and be introduced to several dive operators (some of whom are DEMA Exhibitors) who are already embracing Green Fins’ proven methods.  

Learn What Your Competition is Doing
Attendees will learn what stages their competitors have achieved along the pathway and get real life examples of what these operators are doing to unlock the business potential inherent in the Green Fins approach. 

Understand the Value of an Ocean-Conscious Business and the Consumers Who Crave It.
Blue Ocean Network’s co-Founder Laurie Wilson will discuss the ocean conscious ‘blue’ business model that is a natural outcome of the Green Fins approach. Attendees will learn about the consumer trends driving the change, and how operators are attracting the fastest growing consumer market ready to buy diving experiences and so much more.

"The ocean is our most valuable business partner. Up until recently, it’s been treated like a backdrop. When we treat it like a business asset, and value it in daily operations, businesses begin to thrive," explains Laurie Wilson.

Free Resources, Support and Take-Aways
Attendees will walk away feeling supported; They’ll receive a free Green Fins Toolkit to get started, access to a professional network of operators already on the pathway, and learn more about industry initiatives like #Mission2020 that are inspiring more industry stakeholders to hop on the sustainable ocean pathway.

Event Details: 3 Seminar Times to Choose From
How to Unlock the Potential of the Ocean Conscious Business Model has two intro seminars and one deep dive seminar. Pick a time to come and join the conversation.

* On Thursday Nov 15, Fourth Element will host the introductory seminar at 4pm in Room N237.
* On Friday Nov 16 at 10am, Stream2Sea will host a second introductory seminar in Room N233.
* Attendees are encouraged to stay in Room N233 on Friday Nov 16 for the following hour (11am- 12noon) when Lembeh Resort and Critters at Lembeh will host a deeper dive into live examples and details of the Green Fins approach brought to you by the operators involved – many are direct competitors.
 

Sign up in Advance to get the Free Toolkit
Attendees can register in advance at the Eventbrite page to be eligible for a FREE toolkit from Green Fins. Can’t make it? Sign-up anyway to get the same support tools for the system adopted by 600+ operators worldwide. Reserve your spot here. 

Ocean-Conscious Sponsors
This seminar series is made possible by the sponsorship of four companies who are already on the sustainable diving pathway and represent different stakeholder groups in the dive and travel industry:

  • Stream2Sea offers reef-friendly sunscreen and personal care products, tested and proven safe for freshwater fish, saltwater fish, and coral larvae;

  • Fourth Element is innovating dive manufacturing by producing dive gear using ghost fishing nets, biodegradable packaging made from vegetables are leading the latest environmental movement within the industry – #Mission2020;

  • Lembeh Resort, and Critters@Lembeh in beautiful North Sulawesi, Indonesia embed ocean-conscious management into their business with their social and environmental initiatives.

Can't Make it to One of the Seminars?
Make sure to reserve your spot anyway to receive the free toolkit. Follow the proceedings and find the presenters at #DEMAShow 2018  by following on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with #BlueGreen #SustainableDiving #HealthyOceanHealthyBusiness #DEMAShow 

For More Information:
Contact Caitlin.Flannery@BlueOcean.Net

Download the Press Release here

PRESS RELEASE: Reef-World Announces Partnership with 1% for the Planet

PRESS RELEASE: Reef-World Announces Partnership with 1% for the Planet

Philippines, 24th October 2018 – Reef-World is the latest nonprofit partner to join 1% for the Planet, an alliance of more than 1,200 member companies in 40 countries that give one percent of their revenues to environmental causes.

As a partner, Reef-World is now eligible to receive donations from 1% for the Planet member companies, placing them among a diverse, global network of environmental organizations. 1% member businesses fuel this nonprofit network through their annual contributions. This partnership provides the opportunity to receive increased funding to support their work in global marine conservation. 

Newly approved Reef-World contributes to a healthier planet by supporting governments and communities in sustainable consumption and production of coastal resources and marine life. This is done through the Green Fins initiative, implemented in partnership with UN Environment. Green Fins is a free membership programme for participating businesses that provide SCUBA diving or snorkelling activities that pledge to follow a set of best environmental practices. It has been implemented in nine countries in South East Asia, the Pacific, Indian Ocean and the Caribbean, demonstrating a measurable reduction in threats to coral reefs from participating businesses.

Many countries are experiencing increasing numbers of tourists who come to see coral reefs, leading to increased threats to the marine environment. Green Fins helps to identify these issues with the help of the private sector and provides a simple solution-based approach with support from government and NGO’s.

"1% for the Planet member businesses donate at least 1% of their annual sales to support environmental nonprofits," says Kate Williams, CEO of 1% for the Planet. "We believe deeply that these nonprofits play a critical role in solving the many challenges facing our planet, and our core work is to grow the corporate support that enables these nonprofits to accomplish even more." 

Thousands of nonprofits worldwide are included in the 1% for the Planet network, and over $175 million has been funneled to its nonprofit partners to date.

 “Reef-World is working on the front line alongside business, government and the public to be the driving force for making sustainable diving and snorkelling the social norm globally. Our ultimate goal is to reduce local threats to coral reefs, allowing them to be more resilient to fight global threats such as climate change.”  - JJ Harvey, Reef-World

 

About 1% for the Planet

1% for the Planet is a global organization that connects dollars and doers to accelerate smart environmental giving. We recognize that the current level of environmental giving - only 3% of total philanthropy - is not enough to solve the most pressing issues facing our planet.

Through our business and individual membership, 1% for the Planet inspires people to support environmental organizations through annual membership and everyday actions. We advise on giving strategies, we certify donations, and we amplify the impact of the network.

Started in 2002 by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, and Craig Mathews, founder of Blue Ribbon Flies, our members have given more than $175 million to environmental nonprofits to date. Today, 1% for the Planet is a network of more than 1,200 member businesses, a new and expanding core with hundreds of individual members, and thousands of nonprofit partners in more than 60 countries. Look for our logo and visit www.onepercentfortheplanet.org to learn more. 

About Reef-World

The Reef-World Foundation is a UK registered charity that operates internationally to support governments and communities in sustainable consumption and production of coastal resources and marine life. Reef-World are a technical implementing agency of the UN Environment for the Green Fins initiative, which focuses on driving environmentally friendly SCUBA diving and snorkelling practices across the industry globally.

Green Fins is a proven approach to reduce the threats and pressures from the SCUBA diving and snorkelling industry such as anchoring, chemical pollution and diver damage to coral reefs through providing training and tools to the businesses who are in a position to act. Look for the Green Fins logo when booking your next dive trip and visit www.greenfins.net to learn more.

Download the Press Release here.

For more information, contact:

Klementina Dukoska, The Reef-World Foundation: klementina@reef-world.org

Cate Starmer, 1% for the Planet: cate@onepercentfortheplanet.org

 

Blog: Finding #AlternativesToAnchoring

Blog: Finding #AlternativesToAnchoring

Anchoring is a very common practice in most boating activities, getting to the point of being one of the most iconic symbols. Do a quick Google search on ‘boating icons’ or ‘sailor’, and an anchor will be the most common symbol that will appear.

For the second Action Point of the Green Fins IYOR 2018 social media campaign we were trying to fight that misconception. Anchoring is one of the most damaging practices of any boating activity, and the growing diving industry is building up the potential threat that anchoring poses.

But as we always say, this potential threat can easily be turned into an opportunity! Through this campaign we want to share the impact that anchoring has on the marine environment, but most importantly the solutions. How, by adopting the many alternatives and by working together, the industry can significantly lower the impact. And in turn, help coral reefs to be stronger to the many other potential hazards they have to face.

In the new #AlternativesToAnchoring infographic you will be able to find all the information you need to make an informed decision. Do you know exactly how an anchor can damage marine ecosystems? What are environmentally friendly alternatives? There is no one answer when it comes to finding alternatives to anchoring, however, through this campaign, Reef-World is trying to inspire action and change in others by sharing the stories of success gathered by more than 10 years of working with the industry.

Hope you enjoy it!

GFAlternativesAnchoring_FINAL.jpg

For more information on the International Year of the Reef 2018 follow this link:  www.iyor2018.org

Want to be part of the movement? Find all the campaign content here.

Thanks to Dive.in magazine to help us develop the infographic!

Reef-World’s campaign partners are:

UN Environment, Fourth Element, PATA, Six Senses Laamu and Explorer Ventures.

 

News: BlueGreen360 Awards three-day study tour on sustainable tourism in Bali

News: BlueGreen360 Awards three-day study tour on sustainable tourism in Bali

The BlueGreen360 Awards honour businesses and individuals in the marine tourism industry who are pioneering efforts to integrate sustainability in their practices and operations. Organized by Asia Dive Expo (ADEX), in collaboration with The Reef World Foundation and the Coral Triangle Center, the award highlights the value of healthy marine and coastal ecosystems to the industry. Green Fins members are automatically participating in the ‘Green Fins Award’, which is presented to the member with the lowest environmental impact, as demonstrated by the Green Fins annual assessment of business practice conducted within the last 18 months.

As part of the prizes, the Coral Triangle Centre (CTC) hosted the award winners in Bali on June 25-27, for a three-day study tour on sustainable tourism. The study tour involved talks on sustainable tourism trends and pathways, sustainable tourism standards in marine protected areas, as well as visits to leading Bali-based tourism establishments who have adopted sustainability principles in their operations and a dive trip to the Nusa Penida Marine Protected Area.

Representatives from Nico Dives Cool, Reef Seen, Ceningan Divers Resort, Deep Blue Divers of Six Senses Laamu were present amongst other participants and speakers.

Klementina, Reef-World representative, was awed by the overwhelming enthusiasm and leadership from the diving businesses to collaborate with NGOs, governments and source solutions that contribute to preserving the marine habitat and related ecosystems.  

Robert from Ceningan Divers, addressed challenges around local MPA management and how to address those, which initiated great discussions and sharing amongst the participants. Green Fins member, Nico Dives Cool Bali, provided a great overview of how they use Green Fins to educate guests and explain practices such as not feeding fish and a strict no touch policy, besides other environmental initiatives they have implemented such as no plastics, no sunscreen in the water (except if it's reef safe), education programme for communities and children, etc.

Megan from Six Senses Laamu, a luxury sustainable resort in the Maldives who's dive centre Deep Blue Divers is a Green Fins Top 10 member, talked about how they're tackling local challenges, which serves as example for other resorts. She also outlined existing sustainability challenges with plastic wrapping for food and was able to source potential solutions and receive recommendations at the event itself.

Sharing their knowledge and resources with the wider community, the dive businesses truly demonstrate environmental pioneering. It shows that dive centres are on the front rows and are the ones tackling marine conservation challenges, willing to go the extra mile, because a healthy ocean means a healthy business.

BLOG: Green Fins spreads its fins - The Caribbean

BLOG: Green Fins spreads its fins - The Caribbean

I have recently returned from the Caribbean, well the Dominican Republic (DR) to be more specific, from what was a particularly satisfying highlight of my career working for Reef-World. I have been developing and supporting Green Fins since 2008 primarily in south east Asia, the Pacific, and the Indian Ocean. These are the main diving meccas of the world where most of the world’s diving tourists tend to learn, visit, and take their diving holidays. The waters generally have great visibility, the marine life is fantastic and the often the costs can be low too, all very attractive factors. However, other parts of the world such as the Red Sea or the Caribbean are also very popular dive locations and ones that I have not had the pleasure of working in.

 Mangroves in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic

Mangroves in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic

And so when I was informed that Reef-World had been successful in securing funding through the Caribbean Environment Programme to introduce Green Fins to the DR, there was a little part of me that was questioning myself if the initiative was transferable enough to go to another region entirely. There was only one way to find out and head out there.

I was training up two members of staff from Reef Check DR, one from the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and one diver from the Auxiliary Navy. They were very welcoming and eager to know more about Green Fins and how it could be used to tackle the many issues they are currently experiencing with their 6.3 million annual tourists, many of which dive or snorkel on their reefs.

 The new Green Fins Assessors - Chilo, Ana Carolina, Iker and Reef-World's JJ

The new Green Fins Assessors - Chilo, Ana Carolina, Iker and Reef-World's JJ

Before I start any of the training courses that I run, I go for a solo dive trip as a ‘tourist’ to get a better idea of the ground situation and the issues the dive centre are collectively facing. The morning of my dive I woke early and was thinking about the usual questions I ask and was thinking “What if there are no issues to the usual problems? What if they already implement the many suggestions that Green Fins proposes? Could we actually help?” I was already slightly aware of the problems they were facing from the months leading up to the training in the DR, but often the situation on the ground can be very different. In many ways I was hoping that there were no serious issues and that Green Fins would instead be able to focus on different issues to the regular ones such as hazardous waste disposal, anchoring issues, major damage from diver behaviour and instead focus on less problematic issues. Maybe we could have a zero impacting dive centre? Could the DR be the country that all others should follow?

When I finally got to the dive centre, I was immediately able to see the same issues from tourism just from the beach. The years of having millions of tourists visit the beach and reefs had left its trademarks. Litter, plastic, garbage, basura, call it what you want. It was there. When we got to reef, I was pleased to see permanent mooring buoys for the dive boats, but this is apparently not the case everywhere. Still a pleasant surprise.

 Isla Catalina - A major tourist attraction.

Isla Catalina - A major tourist attraction.

After a hot trip out and kitting up with my new Fourth Element wetsuit made from recycling fishing nets (ok so that was an obvious plug but seriously, you should check it out. It’s a great comfy neoprene alternative suit), I was pleased to roll off the boat and into the familiar blue. It was great to be back on the reef, but it didn’t take long before the same sights I sadly see in Asia and beyond were also there. I could see the tell-tell sign corals that had been damaged from divers. I then saw a group of other divers coming into contact with the reef and breaking corals and gorgonian fans. I was hoping it would be different.

 Fourth Element's Thermocline wetsuit. Made from recycled ‘Ghost’ fishing nets.

Fourth Element's Thermocline wetsuit. Made from recycled ‘Ghost’ fishing nets.

During the training weeks and meeting the dive centres and certifying the new Green Fins members, two things were apparent to me. It was obvious that the industry was very similar to other regions in the world, with the same issues and struggles and secondly, that Green Fins was easily replicable and transferable, able to provide solutions and alternatives to the same issues. I have every confidence that with time, Green Fins will be able to alleviate some of these pressures and will able to unite government, business, and NGO’s working in the region to work together on other issues such as enforcement, supporting regulations and encouraging more recycling and reducing the overall footprint of the industry.

Watch this space to see how the team in the DR get on and follow the Facebook page to see the new members in the DR coming onboard.

JJ

NEWS: Partnering in symbiosis to save our reefs

NEWS: Partnering in symbiosis to save our reefs

Banner image by: Anita Gardener

Industry leaders have stepped up to embrace Green Fins with symbiotic partnerships with The Reef-World Foundation, driving sustainable diving as the global social norm.

Reef-World has embarked on a journey to develop mutually beneficial tourism industry partnerships that drive sustainable value chains by creating tangible outcomes for the ocean, communities and the economy through the Green Fins initiative. Pioneering businesses from various lines of the industry are taking progressive steps to implement environmental policies and practices, green their value chains, educate people through showcasing solutions, thus raising the bar of sustainability across the industry through the Green Fins initiative. These partnerships are already having impacts, including:

1) Greening Equipment Manufacturer’s value chains, through introducing Green Fins messages for wider reach. One example is Fourth Element who have been setting some of the sustainability industry standards when it comes to manufacturing and establishing ‘circular’ value chains, from compostable packaging to recycled swimwear, to wetsuits made from recycled ‘ghost’ fishing nets. Fourth Element will further green their value chain through introducing Green Fins messages, starting with a label for their gloves that is intended to warn divers not to touch any marine life from the first step of the purchase.

2) Leading diver training organisations are interested to embrace Green Fins as a proven solution for improving environmental performance of dive centres, furthermore, educating dive staff and divers. Some of the solutions involve adopting Green Fins at scale to green their network of dive centres; educate local businesses and showcase solutions from the field; launch/revamp conservation-based courses with the aim for divers to become more aware of the marine environment, the threats and understand what they can do to protect it.

3) A pioneering resort, Six Senses Laamu is using Green Fins as an educational tool, and in partnership, we have released the first of a series of videos, where Six Senses Laamu has shared their approach to environmental pre-dive briefings to help educate dive staff and divers; and inspire the industry as a whole. Explorer Ventures Liveaboard in the Caribbean has also stepped up as the first liveaboard to adopt the Green Fins Code of Conduct voluntarily and use the Green Fins International Year of the Reef 2018 Campaign to educate people on sustainable dive practices and operations.

 

4) Divebooker, an online reservation system for travelling divers has introduced an incentive for Green Fins dive centres to become part of the platform with 0% commission. A new emerging platform for dive rating called Rateyourdive.com has introduced Green Fins as a filter for divers to be able to locate a green dive centre and has included environmental rating for dive centres. Both of these businesses are driving tourists to more environmental businesses, whilst setting high sustainability standards.

 

 

Why are businesses interested? Their long-term viability depends on the marine environment. Divers who are travelling across the world to see the rainforests of the sea, are becoming more and more environmentally aware and are choosing businesses who demonstrate environmental stewardship. Businesses are joining forces with the Green Fins initiative to decrease industry threats to the marine environment, allowing coral reefs to be more resilient to fight off bigger threats such as climate change, pollution and overfishing. Apart from the positive environmental impacts, it’s an opportunity to INNOVATE, to build relationships with CLIENTS and to PIONEER SOLUTIONS.

These collaborations directly contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 14 (Life Below Water), 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and serve as a platform for the diving industry to take the lead and collectively prove that healthy oceans really do mean a healthy business.

It’s the beginning of an exciting journey where the industry is starting to tackle challenges collaboratively, learn from each other and co-creating, thus working for the long-term sustainability of businesses and the dive sites we enjoy.

Are you interested in implementing environmental policies and/or practices in your company's operations, courses or value chain? Spreading the word and driving behaviour change? In supporting the creation of positive tangible impacts for the ocean, communities and environment?

If the answer is yes to one or all of the previous questions, please get in touch! For becoming a Symbiotic Partner of The Reef-World Foundation, contact Klementina Dukoska at klementina@reef-world.org

 

PRESS RELEASE: Eco-Diving Certification Programme Green Fins comes to the Caribbean

PRESS RELEASE: Eco-Diving Certification Programme Green Fins comes to the Caribbean

With support from the Regional Activity Centre for the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife for the Wider Caribbean Region (SPAW-RAC), under the framework of the Caribbean Environment Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment - CEP) and with support from UK based marine conservation charity The Reef-World Foundation, an initiative called Green Fins is being introduced to the Dominican Republic in June 2018. Taking the lead are locally based Reef Check Dominican Republic, a local organization aiming to protect coral reefs and their associated species, who will be using Green Fins to address the increase in tourist numbers that are engaging with the marine environment and the associated threats that come with this. In 2016, 6.1 million tourists visited the country.

Green Fins is a free certification programme for participating businesses that provide SCUBA diving or snorkelling activities that pledge to follow a set of best practice. The Green Fins 15-point Code of Conduct was developed by the UN Environment in 2004 and has since been introduced into nine countries in South East Asia with much success through demonstrating a measurable reduction in threats to coral reefs from participating businesses. Due to the high biodiversity and attractiveness to SCUBA divers in Asia, many countries have seen a boom in tourist numbers bringing with them associated threats to the marine environment. Green Fins helps to identify these issues with the help of the private sector and provides a simple solution-based approach with support from government and NGO’s.

The initiative is a way to reduce the threats and pressures from the SCUBA diving industry such as anchoring, chemical pollution and diver damage to coral reefs through providing training and tools to the businesses who are in a position to act.

International Coordinators, Reef-World will be coming to the Dominican Republic in June 2018 and will be establishing a National Green Fins team who will be overseeing the programme. A small team of Assessors will be trained by Reef-World that will include Reef Check Dominican Republic, the government and other key stakeholders who will be visiting the dive centres to carry out on-site evaluations of the dive centres.

Reef-World Operations Manager James Harvey says “This is really exciting as we have been receiving requests for many years from Caribbean based governments and businesses to introduce Green Fins to the region and now it is finally expanding on the great work we have achieved so far in Asia. Reef-World are very excited to have the team behind Reef Check Dominican Republic taking the lead as they are renowned for their ability to protect coral reefs and are well respected in the country.”

The coral reefs in the Dominican Republic, and globally, are under an increasing level of threat from a range of issues from climate change to land-based sources of pollution including marine plastics and Green Fins will use the passion and the power of the marine tourism industry to help reduce the threat from this important industry upon which many people depend on.

For more information contact: info@reef-world.org

Download the press release here:

English | Spanish | French

BLOG: REDEFINING Conservation Messages

BLOG: REDEFINING Conservation Messages

As times change and generations pass, the way that we communicate changes with us. Internet, technology, social media have driven us into the fastest ‘evolutionary communicational process’, if that’s a thing! Information is moving at such a fast pace that technology is a big determining factor on how people develop and interact with the world around them. Marking a difference amongst generations, such as the Baby Boomers, X, Y, and the new Z!

Sometimes it feels like we are running a never ending race, most of the factors that make up an efficient message need to constantly catch up and evolve. Anything that we put out there is a small drop in the ocean of messages that one person receives each day, with the average US person being exposed to between 4,000 to 10,000 ads on a daily basis. Not to mention that many of these ads and articles have likely been created by big corporations that have all the means to capture attention.  In this context, amongst these giants, where do conservation messages stand?

One thing we can do is to learn from them, use their tools and methods and adapt them to our needs. Maybe we won’t be reaching as many people, but we are going to reach those people who are interested, and it is through them that we can instigate a behavioural change. From where we, Reef-World, stand at the moment, it is not quantity, but quality!

As mentioned before many aspects of the communication process are constantly changing, marketing, branding, design, graphics; all of them have to work together in order to reach the audience. In recent years, the infographic has proved to be an excellent medium to communicate complex messages:

 I bet you read this information first with the nice icons on the side! Source:  https://offers.hubspot.com/generate-leads-with-infographics

I bet you read this information first with the nice icons on the side! Source: https://offers.hubspot.com/generate-leads-with-infographics

For that reason, and for the urgency that we have to protect coral reefs, we decided to create brand new infographics gathering many interesting facts for the #GreenFinsIYOR2018 Campaign. These infographics will cover the main Action Points of the campaign, some of the biggest environmental threats posed by the diving industry.

When creating the #RedefineTheDive infographic, our new star, it was a big challenge to filter the information and choose the messages that we wanted our audience to know and to share. Direct diver damage has big impacts on coral reef ecosystems, but most of the time they are unknown or undermined.

I fully enjoyed… and at times suffered through(!), the whole process of gathering the information and then pulling it together into a visually appealing form. I hope you enjoy it, share it, post it, and print it if you can!

We'd really like to thank all of the researches quoted here who have worked on this area of expertise, without their studies the impact of this infographic wouldn't be as strong! 

NEWS: A new assessor team for Green Fins in Negros Oriental, Philippines

NEWS: A new assessor team for Green Fins in Negros Oriental, Philippines

Over the past few years, Reef-World has been working hand-in-hand with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the Philippines to integrate the Green Fins approach into national frameworks for managing the impacts of marine tourism, in particular diving and snorkelling.

With significant infrastructure milestones in place, like the adoption of Green Fins into the comprehensive Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Management Program (CMEMP) and the resulting Technical Bulletin reached, 2018 marks the year of Assessor training!

Between the 16th-21st April 2018, a new team of assessors from the Negros Oriental Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), satellite Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENROs Ayungon and Dumaguete) and local NGO Marine Conservation Philippines were trained up by Reef-World.

Since the launch of CMEMP, DENR staff across the country have been honing their skills for both diving, and managing coastal resources, and the results are clear. The new team of six were not only highly enthusiastic, they took to the Assessor roles like fish to waterThe team certified four (4) Green Fins members, reaching 29 people through awareness raising presentations. With representatives from across the province, they will focus on the diving hotspots of Dauin and Zamboanguita before taking Green Fins to all corners of Negros Oriental!

Follow Green Fins on Facebook to stay in the loop as environmental standards are implemented across one of the muck diving capitols of the world.

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PRESS RELEASE: Sustainable Diving Think Tank and Dialogue at ADEX 2018

PRESS RELEASE: Sustainable Diving Think Tank and Dialogue at ADEX 2018

Singapore, 6th April 2018: Once again, among the excitement and fun filled schedule of the Asian Dive Expo (ADEX) in Singapore last weekend, a group of 50 industry leaders gathered for a deeper purpose. The event was a true collaboration; Co-chaired by UN Environment and The Reef-World Foundation (Green Fins international coordinators), organized by UnderWater 360 and supported by the Blue Ocean Network. It brought together some of the giants of the diving industry to share how their businesses are working towards sustainable consumption and production patterns and minimizing impacts to life below water.

The group who gathered for this event understand their industry will face unprecedented challenges in the future as a result of climate change threatening their key asset, coral reefs. They want to be prepared and connected to a professional network of like-minded people to ensure their businesses continue to thrive.

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Each segment of the diving industry was represented on a panel; Lauren Sida from Six Senses Laamu (dive resorts); Mik Jennings from Worldwide Dive and Sail (Liveaboard); Danny Dwyer from PADI and Jacki Ng from SSI (both diver training agencies); Chee Hoon from Fourth Element (equipment manufacturer); and, Jason Isley from Scubazoo (underwater photography and videography). Throughout a dialogue the panel discussed how they are building sustainability into their business models, where they are falling short and what opportunities and challenges they are meeting along their journey. Challenges such as promotional t-shirts being supplied individually in plastic bags were raised. Solutions were then offered, such as the Fourth Element t-shirts which come in 100% biodegradable bags made of cassava.

Participants from the first Sustainable Diving Think Tank and Dialogue in 2017 shared their stories of change inspired by the event, detailing the steps they have already taken.

We make our business from the ocean and we need that ocean to be clean and sustainable.
— Mik Jennings from Worldwide Dive and Sail (WWD&S, Liveaboard operator).

Since last year’s dialog WWD&S have developed a new company wide environmental policy, eliminated single-use plastic straws, aim to be single-use plastic free and are looking at LED lights and solar energy alternatives.

“After Thomas Knedlik participated in last year’s think tank, it inspired changes in the APAC office for recycling and reducing”, said Danny Dwyer of PADI. PADI globally offers an option for people to choose digital programmes and in collaboration with Project AWARE as part of dive against debris, PADI has just registered 1 million pieces of rubbish recovered from the ocean.

One of the key messages to come out of these stories is the reaction from customers. “There is positive feedback from our customers, including non-diver friends.” said Chee Hoon who represents Fourth Element (Equipment Supplier). Fourth Element with its mission 2020 is on the way to eliminate all single-use plastics and currently manufactures a wetsuit using recycled ‘ghost’ fishing nets as part of its OceanPositive collection. Fourth Element is looking to minimize climate change by moving raw material closer to the assembly area and using alternatives to airfreight to minimise carbon dioxide emissions.

Environmental sustainability is about choices in terms of what you buy, eat, how it was packaged, where you stay. Making the right choices as a consumer is important, because we’re the ones who can drive that change.
— Lauren Siba from Six Senses Laamu resort.

It was standing room only for the audience who enthusiastically shared their own stories of change, offered more solutions to some of the problems raised and took the opportunity to pose more questions to the panel. Participants walked away full of ideas of actions to take and connected to a network of people who are all keen to pull together as an industry to build sustainability into its core.

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“Companies have similar challenges in sourcing, value chains, etc. How do you come together to discuss how to solve those challenges? Are there any events, or is there a task force in place in order to do that?”, asked Sabine Henkel from Asia Divers (Philippines based dive centre). The panel and audience raised the possibility of this Sustainable Diving Think Tank and Dialogue being consistently repeated during dive shows to serve as such a platform.

The closing statement from the chair, Gabriel Grimsditch from the UN Environment, was that taking steps towards sustainability for your business does not need to cost money, and will actually act to build profits in the medium and long term.

Contact: Chloe Harvey, Programmes Manager at The Reef-World Foundation chloe@reef-world.org

 

BLOG: Reef-World’s International Year of the Reef

BLOG: Reef-World’s International Year of the Reef

This year the international community is celebrating coral reefs, 2018 was declared as the International Year of the Reef (IYOR). The third IYOR was launched by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) as it is recognised that reefs are facing an uphill battle against global changes in climate, ocean acidification and a host of local threats. When working in conservation, or if you are interested in any type of conservation movement, is not new to know that nature is suffering and that the reason for it usually boils down to one thing, humans.

For us in Reef-World IYOR was a great opportunity to raise awareness, and certainly, it was for me. Since I graduated from university, back in 2010, I knew that I wanted to apply my knowledge and skills towards raising environmental awareness. It seemed very obvious back then, and unfortunately, it still is, how people tend to isolate their day to day lives from nature. Not thinking about their actions and even less on the consequences.

 During last years' Green Fins implementation in Palau, I had the opportunity to see some of the most stunning coral reefs. Crazy to think that all reefs used to look like this at some point!

During last years' Green Fins implementation in Palau, I had the opportunity to see some of the most stunning coral reefs. Crazy to think that all reefs used to look like this at some point!

Our everyday actions have environmental impacts. Even those living in cities far from the coastline can have an impact on the marine environment. Do you smoke? Do you flick your cigarette butt on the floor when you’re done? That cigarette butt can very easily travel from the drain to the ocean, and the chemicals found in one cigarette butt can leach out and contaminate approximately 7.5 litres of water within one hour. Are you aware of the CO2 emissions of your daily commute? Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere heats up the Earth and the oceans absorb most of this excess heat. Heat absorbed by the ocean is moved from one place to another, but it doesn’t disappear. The heat energy eventually re-enters the rest of the Earth system by melting ice shelves, evaporating water, or directly reheating the atmosphere. Many buzz words like climate change, ocean acidification and rising sea levels; come out this equation. I’m not even going to get started on the issue of plastics, that would be another blog in itself.

In a nutshell, there are MANY problems, and to have one organisation tackling ALL of them is not very realistic. What we do is to help a specific group, the diving industry, to lessen their environmental impact. The diving industry, like any other tourism industry, has many impacts on the marine environment, and it is through Green Fins that we help them tackle those threats.

To celebrate IYOR we decided to make a special effort to spread the Green Fins message and get as many people involved as possible! Social media has become one of the most influential communication channels, with recent studies showing that people are starting to expand their use of social media platforms. Revealing trends where social begins to overtake search engines. Using this new understanding we want to make the user experience more enriching and in doing so, more beneficial for the reefs! And for that reason, we released the #GreenFinsIYOR2018 social media campaign.

The social media campaign aims to make sustainable diving practices the social norm, by promoting pragmatic solutions to key local threats identified through years of work with the dive industry; and encouraging other stakeholders, like equipment manufacturers, to take action to reduce the pressures on coral reefs.  If you are not yet following Green Fins on social media, this is the year to start!! It is never too late, you won't miss a thing because all the posts, hashtags and relevant information are collected in one place:

Share. Print. Post. Tag

#RedefineTheDive and help save our reefs this #IYOR2018!

NEWS: BOOT Show, Dusserldorf - January 2018

NEWS: BOOT Show, Dusserldorf - January 2018

The Reef-World Foundation were present at the annual Boot Show in Dusseldorf for a few days to meet with various partners, meet some Green Fins members and to see the usual SCUBA diving and snorkelling innovations and trends. The BOOT show is home to the ‘world’s greatest boat and water sports show’ with 1,923 exhibitors from 68 different countries spread out over 220,000 square meters. There was a dedicated hall to just SCUBA diving with dive centres, tour operators, equipment manufacturers, conservation organisations and diver certification agencies all selling their new products and showcasing new equipment. The days were busy and long with the evenings providing a fruitful opportunity for the exhibitors to get together to talk about various topics such as tourism trends, marketing strategies and of course the current state of the health of the seas and oceans and how they can contribute to marine conservation approaches.

As there is every year, there is seems to be a growing trend in the awareness to environmental issues with dive centres and tour agencies showcasing eco or environmentally friendly dive trips that minimise their impact on the marine environment. Through the Green Fins initiative and other programmes that promote best practices, divers and businesses are becoming more aware of specific behaviours that should be more commonplace within the industry. This trip allowed Operations Manager James Harvey and Global Partnerships Manager, Klementina Dukoska to speak with the main certification agencies including SSI, SDI-TDI and PSS to name a few and some major brands such as Fourth Element, Scubapro, Cressi and SEACAM to find out more about what changes their businesses are making to reduce their impact. It was a good chance to speak with some of the main tour operators to hear what today’s divers expect in terms of environmental credentials and how trying to keep ahead of the curve in terms of making sure they are reducing all possible risk to corals reefs is being done at various levels throughout the business.

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The Reef-World Foundations ultimate goal is to reduce the negative impacts from all aspects of the diving industry whilst enhancing the publics awareness to the various threats to the marine environment and making them aware of how thy can positively influence the seas and oceans that they care so much about. Through support from Reef-World, many companies are making pledges to make serious and meaningful changes within how they operate such as reducing their packing, stop the use of single-use plastics and reducing the amount of cargo that needs to be transported around the world. As such simple solutions become more commonplace and affordable it not only makes environmental sense but businesses are finding that it also makes businesses sense too, increasing their profit markings. It is only when it makes financial sense for everybody will we see serious changes happening, reflected by healthy and prosperous reefs and Reef-World is leading the way in making this happen across the globe for this passionate and dedicated sector. 

NEWS: Introducing Green Fins Bali! - January 2018

NEWS: Introducing Green Fins Bali! - January 2018

Indonesia is renown as a world-class diving destination with booming tourist hotspots and several emerging destinations. Diving activities range from muck diving to see the weird and wonderful macro-life, to zipping currents and the chance to see Mantas and Mola molas, the tourism industry is booming.

Bali has long been a tourist hotspot and despite recent hiccups with press misconceptions about the impact from Mount Agung’s activity, diving plays a major role in the island’s tourism. In order to leverage this passionate industry for coral reef protection whilst helping them to reduce their own threats, the esteemed Coral Triangle Center have adopted the Green Fins approach.

Between the 22-27 January 2018, Reef-World trained up four (4) new Green Fins assessors from CTC, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and the Bali Professional Divers Association as Green Fins Assessors. The new Green Fins Bali team took to the initiative like fish to water, quick to see the value of Green Fins as a management tool and an opportunity to build stronger, more collaborative relationships with the diving industry. The diving industry was incredibly receptive and have shown serious motivation towards environmentally positive changes.

As a result, there are now six active Green Fins members in Bali, with more requests for membership coming in every day. This small but committed team will be piloting Green Fins in Bali and are aiming for 30 active members by the end of 2018. Starting with a select number, the team will be providing quality environmental consultations and training to Bali members before spreading their fins to increase membership in Bali and beyond.

This is a really exciting development for the Green Fins network and Reef-World is looking forward to see what CTC, the MMAF and the new team of assessors will do with the new Green Fins tools in Indonesia over the years.

If you have any questions, you may contact the new team at indonesia@greenfins.net, or follow their Facebook page.

BLOG: Climbing the Marine Conservation Ladder

BLOG: Climbing the Marine Conservation Ladder

A little while ago I wrote a blog for Zoox about my volunteering experiences in marine conservation, convinced that it was the last one I would ever write. Yet, here I am again, writing a blog. This time, not for Zoox but for The Reef-World Foundation (RWF) (sister charity of Zoox).  Yes, I am back in the Philippines and not as a volunteer, but stepping up as an intern.   I never could have guessed that this is what I would be doing, when I first went diving a little more than a year ago. Obsessed with diving, I dreamed about a job that would combine that interest with my passion for sustainability. But how to do that?  I didn’t study marine biology but political science so nobody would ever hire me right? Well, true passion brings you already a long way, or rather 7000 miles in my case.

My volunteering in Asia brought me the necessary experience and a first taste what it felt like to work in marine conservation. And I am thirsty for more. Working as an intern is one step closer to chasing that dream. During this internship, I get the chance to be part of the daily operations of an international conservation organization. I learn all about the administrative, financial, promotional side of marine conservation, while working with a variety of stakeholders. I meet a lot of motivated people that truly inspire me.  I have the opportunity to conduct Green Fins assessments in Moalboal and Malapascua. This is still my favorite part of the job. I get to dive a lot, I get to give awareness raising presentations (which I now like doing), and consult with managers on a plan of action on how to reduce their environmental risk.

In between the assessments, my days in the office are filled with writing articles, reports, blogs and updating social media. I also have to develop a tier system in our training material to guarantee the awareness raising presentations meet stakeholder expectations. Every day I learn more while the RWF team makes sure I get the opportunity to capitalize on my earlier experiences.  Giving presentations is something I used to lay awake for, meeting stakeholders I would prepare for days and days, but no longer as it is now part of my daily routine.  I also get to further expand my personal project on waste management, to provide solutions for dive centers to dispose of their hazardous waste responsibly (such as used engine oil or empty batteries). I am trying to identify opportunities to establish public-private partnerships between Local Government Units and recycling companies in the Philippines. If I manage to pull this off, this will prove to be a long-term solution with real conservation impact. So definitely a very busy agenda to realise during these four months of my internship but I am excited to make the most out of it.

 

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BLOG: What if you can combine travel, adventure and working for a cause? My first two months with Reef-World!

BLOG: What if you can combine travel, adventure and working for a cause? My first two months with Reef-World!

Second day at the new job and I was diving in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Isn’t it amazing to be diving at the very beginning of a new job?! After seven days, I got certified as Rescue Diver. I never imagined I be diving with a job, and I also did not expect to realise my dream so soon, to live in Asia and travel while working for a cause I believe in.

   
  
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
  
  
  
  
     Photo on the top left was taken in Apo island, Philippines. Photo on right was taken in Dauin, Philippines during my rescue diver course.    The photo below was taken in Dauin, Philippines during some of the adventure dives we did.   Photo credit: Bernd Zomerdijk

Photo on the top left was taken in Apo island, Philippines. Photo on right was taken in Dauin, Philippines during my rescue diver course.

The photo below was taken in Dauin, Philippines during some of the adventure dives we did. Photo credit: Bernd Zomerdijk

It was during the diving within the first weeks, that I also discovered a lot of the challenges with the diving industry, the dive tourism and its effect on coral reefs and related ecosystems, from destructive anchoring, stepping on fragile coral, damaging coral reefs with equipment to disturbing and affecting the marine life, etc. And did you know that some coral such as the honeycomb coral take 20 months to grow one centimetre? Looking at the different boats, the different dive tours, the snorkelers, I came to realise the scale of the problem. I was in paradise, I was enjoying, but I also was aware this paradise might not continue existing in such beautiful form and shape in future.

  Leaving Apo island, Philippines after a day of diving

Leaving Apo island, Philippines after a day of diving

It did not take me long to get the link between what Reef-World does through the core program Green Fins and Climate change, a grand challenge I am working on for several years as a climate speaker and advocate. Protecting and conserving the coral reefs and related ecosystems, through sustainable dive operations, can prepare them to fight the ‘wicked’ climate change challenges.

I was also stunned by the work the small and motivated team of Reef-World is performing in bringing policy, businesses and communities together. The team is working directly with local communities, local and national governments, influencing policy and identifying clear solutions to local problems, and even helping countries to meet specific targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. On the other side, the team has a broad global perspective and understanding of marine conservation, and has developed strong relationship with UN Environment and other relevant stakeholders, with the aim to to protect our precious oceans and the marine life thriving in them.

  A photo of the team together with the local community in Panglao, Philippines during a Green Fins training

A photo of the team together with the local community in Panglao, Philippines during a Green Fins training

I witnessed the different links of relationships and the value people see in the core program Green Fins, through visiting dive businesses in Negros Oriental and Panglao, Philippines, through participating in a training with the Philippines government where national actions where agreed, and currently I am in touch with UN Environment to work on strategic development of the organisation.

  Photo of the Malaysian community, after being trained as Green Fins assessors

Photo of the Malaysian community, after being trained as Green Fins assessors

Now more than ever, the oceans need protection, and I’m motivated and grateful to be able to ride the journey. This is a unique opportunity to go deeper into marine conservation, explore Asia and everything it has to offer, explore the underwater world through diving and simply live a unique, exiciting and sustainable life.

BLOG: Gifts from paradise!

BLOG: Gifts from paradise!

Over the past few weeks, I got to experience a side of Reef-World that I’ve never seen before, one that embodies the ever-present ‘inspire and empower’ of the Reef-World mission statement. It was my first time being part of Green Fins implementation on a national level, it gave me a different perspective of the work that we do and a bigger, more international, scope to the reach we have as such a small numbered team.

With the guidance of JJ and Sam, I was part of the Green Fins Assessor Training in “Pristine Paradise Palau’, the first Green Fins country in the Pacific AND the 8th active Green Fins country! Before the trip to Palau, I assisted Sam in a training for the Philippines’ government and, once we came back from the pristine paradise, I got the chance to participate as a guest speaker on SSI’s event Free Dive for the Future, which took place in Mactan, Cebu, Philippines.

 Traveling around to  inspire and empower !

Traveling around to inspire and empower!

Over about three weeks, I interacted with three very different and important audiences that Green Fins reaches out to: national level teams (Palau and Philippines), the diving industry (Palau) and dive tourists (Mactan). You can see how being the Coordinator of communications for Green Fins can be complex sometimes! But it just shows the reach and amplitude of the initiative, there are so many different ways and channels that we can use in order to change perceptions toward a more sustainable and conscious interaction with the marine environment.

 The Milky Way is famous tourist attraction for snorkel tours in Palau. Bottom right, me and Marley during a snorkel assessment. 

The Milky Way is famous tourist attraction for snorkel tours in Palau. Bottom right, me and Marley during a snorkel assessment. 

It was eye-opening. While doing one of the snorkel assessments in Palau, with local Assessor Marley Kloulubak, I realized I was in the middle of the Pacific on a boat with 10 Chinese tourists, 1 Bangladeshi boat crew, 1 Filipino boat crew, 2 Palauans and me, a Costa Rican; all sharing one experience for many different reasons. There and then I could see it so clearly, the complete supply and demand chain within the tourism industry. For whatever reason each one of us was there for, it was all directly influenced by the healthy state of coral reefs, and the marine environment.

The diving and snorkelling tourism industry directly depend on healthy oceans, and it is through these experiences that we at Reef-World have the chance to make a change. Experiences that give light to that flame inside, and remind us of why we work so hard every day!  

What inspires you to go that extra inch for conservation?

What inspires you to go that extra inch for conservation?

If you were to ask me who my hero’s in life were, I would have a tough time answering. I have different people that I respect for their contributions to the world of conservation and the obvious always spring to mind; David Attenburgh, Sylvia Earle, the entire Cousteau family, Ove Hoegh-Guldburgh, Callum Roberts, Charlie Veron. They are all people that would not have made me the conservationist I am today. Their teachings and works are truly inspirational. And although these people, among others have had a huge impact on my career direction, it is often in other places that I find motivation on a day to day basis. In this way, I suppose a few of my biggest inspirations are NFL Coach Marty Schottenheimer, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, and Winnie the Pooh. Now that sounds odd, even to me, but let me explain.

I have always been a sucker for a good motivational speaker. During my university rowing days, I would always listen to the Al Pacino ‘Inches’ speech from Any Given Sunday to get me into that fighting mode on race day, activating the Adrenalin. Even after having watched it many times, it can still make my neck hairs stand on end. “We can stay here and get the sh!t kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back into the light, we can climb outta hell, one inch at a time.” “Life is a game of inches” he says. Recently I was rereading the Tao of Pooh. It’s a funny little book that tries (very successfully) to explain Taoist teachings through Winnie the Pooh. The author, Benjamin Hoff, explains that when he first started to write the book, many people exclaimed that it was “preposterous” and “where would you even begin?” To which he replied, “A thousand-mile journey starts with one step.”

Now individually, one would never really think to pair a film about American Football with Winnie the Pooh and Taoism and yet those two quotes go so well together. Basically, “start at the very beginning, and take it one inch at a time.”

  All you have to do is start at the very beginning and take it once inch at a time

All you have to do is start at the very beginning and take it once inch at a time

So let’s apply that to conservation.

It is becoming truer every day that there is plenty to do to reduce the impact that humans are having on the environment but while working for The Reef-World Foundation we are trying to protect coral reefs by encouraging dive and snorkel operators to follow a code of conduct. Despite it being a proven way to minimise the risk of environmental damage, I work with naysayers, people with motivation but ultimately low capacity to change, people lacking motivation but with high capacity to change and those who go all out to ensure that their environmental conscience is clear, regardless of the actions of others. With each stakeholder, and each task, I start at the beginning and take it one inch at a time

And sometimes it gets too much. Every now and again it is nice to work with people who share in your mission to better deal with those people who seem determined to oppose everything you know is scientific fact. And in this way, ignorance truly is bliss. The most motivated people I work with are often also the people who are having their water pipes dug up for being an ‘environmental activist’ or going to bed at night feeling their efforts are just too small a drop in the ocean. These “enlightened ones” are often the people who are unhappy with the current global/local situation while the naysayers continue in their blissful ignorance.

  How hard are you prepared to fight to leave your mark on the world?

How hard are you prepared to fight to leave your mark on the world?

So really it comes down to two camps. Are you motivated to change, or are you living in ignorance? In the Shawshank Redemption, Andy DeFresne says to Red, “You either get busy living or get busy dying”. In the warped way my mind makes connections, to me, that means, you either get busy trying to make the world a better place or you end up being part of the problem. And for my final motivation, I refer to The Old Man and the Sea by Ernst Hemmingway. It doesn’t matter what other people think of you, it is about getting up and fighting for what you believe in till the very end. There will always be people trying take away the things you fight hardest for, but the only thing that matters is how hard you are willing to fight back (in the book, its sharks fighting the old man for his hard-earned fishing catch).

And once all is said and done, rest well, because tomorrow is another day!

PS. Actually, having rewatched that Al Pacino Speech about 5 more times, just go ahead and watch the whole thing, right now. And be part of the team that fights for that inch

Don't forget your roots

Don't forget your roots

Over the years I’ve worked for Reef-World, I have heard the stories of the “birth” of Green Fins at Phuket Marine Biological Centre in Thailand. In 2004, as a new UN Environment initiative, Green Fins was first implemented through PMBC whose dedicated staff, in collaboration with Reef-World founder Anne Paranjoti (nee Miller) starting spreading the 15-point code of conduct around the local diving industry. 

 PMBC from the sea.

PMBC from the sea.

 

In 2008, our managers Chloe and JJ knocked on the door of PMBC looking for voluntary work experience. Their passion was soon harnessed to work on the Green Fins programme. The rest is history. History that I have taught to numerous volunteers through our sister company Zoox. History that I see shaping every decision we at Reef-World make. The very foundation, the ethos of Green Fins was born at PMBC. 

 

The legacy from Anne and Khun Niphon Phongsuwan and Aey Suptuchong to name a few saturates my daily work life. Naturally, I was delighted to head over to Phuket last May with JJ to train a whole new team of Green Fins Assessors. I’ve always loved to see history brought to life and it was heart warming to visit Chloe and JJ’s old office, see the old faded Green Fins stickers on the tables and meet the people I’ve only seen in the depths of our photo library. Those stickers have formed the basis of Jula’s recent branding overhaul. Those people taught Chloe and JJ the lessons they now teach us. It felt like a full circle. 

 The newly trained Green Fins Thailand team with JJ and myself.

The newly trained Green Fins Thailand team with JJ and myself.

 

To top it off, it was a real pleasure to work with the new Assessor team, nine passionate conservationists (and a cat) from DMCR, GVI Thailand, North Andaman Network Foundation and independent researchers. The experience many had from years of conducting Green Fins awareness raising activities translated easily into the assessment process and it was a quite incredible to witness the respect that the marine tourism industry stakeholders have for them. 

 Tourists lining up in Ao Chalong for day trips to nearby islands. Up to 1000 people a day in high season.

Tourists lining up in Ao Chalong for day trips to nearby islands. Up to 1000 people a day in high season.

 

The Phuket tourism industry is overwhelming, and that was only seeing it at low season. However, the warm reception Green Fins got from the shops we worked with was incredible. It won’t be like that every assessment the team does, it never is, but to know that there are business owners out there that appreciate the chance to streamline sustainable practices into their every day practices is inspiring. 

 

We’re all looking forward to seeing the plans of the Thailand team come to life and even more active Green Fins members added to the growing network. 

 Newly trained Green Fins Assessors Maw and Kaew deliver the GF Awareness Raising presentation to senior management of a snorkel tour company.

Newly trained Green Fins Assessors Maw and Kaew deliver the GF Awareness Raising presentation to senior management of a snorkel tour company.

Breaking Barriers with Green Fins

Breaking Barriers with Green Fins

Working on the Green Fins initiative means working closely with the diving and snorkelling community. Over the last two years, I have been privileged enough to meet some of the industry's strongest forces for coral reef protection. Whether it's the Green Fins Ambassadors - local dive guides going the extra mile to promote sustainable diving practices - or dive shop managers working alongside government to achieve their mutual conservation goals.

 Green Fins Ambassadors of Panglao, Philippines

Green Fins Ambassadors of Panglao, Philippines

These individuals come from all walks of life: mothers and fathers, twenty-somethings and fifty-somethings, Filipino and Chinese, experienced divers and even newly qualified divers. But they all have one thing in common. They love the ocean. They'll do everything they can to fight for the survival of coral reefs.

One way in which Reef-World are working to help these inspirational people is by breaking barriers throughout the industry. Recently, so many instructors and dive guides have expressed their concerns about the growing number of new divers visiting them from China. I have heard story after story about divers that don't know how to control their buoyancy, divers that have been certified without even entering the ocean, and divers that just want to touch e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

Chinese divers are becoming burdened with the stigma of being terrible divers before they've even set foot in a dive shop. It's a sheer numbers game. In 2017, visitors from North East Asia accounted for 65% of all people travelling to the Asia pacific! That's a huge majority but such growth only really began in the last 4 or 5 years. That volume of people learning a completely new sport - diving - in a completely new environment - underwater - that quickly is bound to lead to problems.

 Asia Pacific Visitor Forecast 2017-2021, Source: PATA

Asia Pacific Visitor Forecast 2017-2021, Source: PATA

Again and again the industry has identified language barriers as the biggest hurdle to helping these new divers learn about sustainable diving and coral reef protection. That's why we at Reef-World have really pushed to translate all of the Green Fins materials into Simplified and Traditional Chinese (as well as Japanese and Korean!). By using these materials, dive guides and instructors can break the language barrier between themselves and their divers. They are able to show them exactly how all divers should behave underwater to ensure the future survival of the animals they love.

There's still a lot more work ahead for the entire diving and snorkelling community but this is definitely a fin forwards in the right direction! Check out all of the newly translated Green Fins materials promoting environmentally friendly diving and snorkelling here: http://greenfins.net/en/Posters

 Some of the Green Fins Materials

Some of the Green Fins Materials