"To protect and conserve coral reefs by establishing and implementing environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling tourism industry."
Green Fins, a public-private initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme and Reef-World, provides the only internationally recognised code of conduct used to reduce the environmental impact of the diving and snorkelling industry. The system includes a proven assessment criteria to identify high-risk practices both above and below the water, offering practical alternatives to business managers, and is implemented by resource managers we train and support.
Diving and snorkelling centres are uniquely positioned to enact positive and lasting changes within their own communities and among customers to encourage.
Performance of participating business operations is evaluated regularly using a 330-point system that scores impacts; the lower the score, the lower the impacts the businesses have on coral reefs. This evaluation system was developed based on our GEARS system. Continued participation and Green Fins certification is dependent on centres lowering impact scores from year to year. Active members are listed on the website enabling tourists to choose environmentally responsible options for their holidays.
Under Reef-World and UNEP leadership, Green Fins has supported environmentally sustainable diving since 2004 in Asia, including some of the world’s top diving destinations in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. By working in these countries we are able to deliver the education and tools needed to address conservation needs to some of the most biologically important coral reef sites in the world, namely the Coral Triangle.
If you would like to know more then please visit the Green Fins website.
The Sea Adventure School
The Sea Adventure School was a programme that was developed in collaboration with The Stairway Foundation, an NGO based in Puerto Galera, Philippines that works with and supports the most marginalised and endangered street children in the Philippines. Their background and focus is working to enhance the lives of children using the United Nations’ Convention of the Rights of the Child as their guiding principles. Having no experience in marine conservation issues, they asked Reef-World to create a programme to support their Environmental Awareness for Children and Youth (EACY) programme creating a better understanding and education of the marine environment, the issues that threaten them and how those involved in the programme can get involved to sustain their local marine resources that their families depend on for food and livelihood security.
The programme revolves around a trip on a large boat able to accommodate up to 30 students and a 5 staff to visit the three main marine tropical ecosystems, starting from the shore visiting seagrasses, mangroves and coral reefs along the way. The programme is conducted during the school holidays and utilises the networks of local government staff and schools to support the programme. In conjunction with artists and educators Anita Gardner and Fiona Childs, Reef-World developed supporting materials in the form of a ‘Leaners Guide’ and ‘Teachers Guide’ and other educational posters and games that support the days trip. The three aspects of Information, Investigation and Insight are the guiding principles of the programme allowing those participating to get the absolute most out of the programme.
The programme is currently being developed and will hopefully be expanded to other regions of the Coral Triangle in the future.
In 1998, Reef-World launched Reef Check Thailand in partnership with the Phuket Marine Biological Centre and ran the first training course late in 1998. During the following years, Reef-World encouraged dive operators throughout Thailand to become involved in gathering Reef Check data.
Reef-World set up a network of dive operators in 3 regions across Thailand – Gulf of Siam (North), Gulf of Siam (South including Koh Samui & Koh Tao) and the Andaman Sea working with over 30 dive operators collecting data from all over Thailand. This activity culminated in activities around Dive into Earth Day 2000 whereby Reef-World managed to involve over 500 people, over 69 events over 3 weeks in reef monitoring, beach clean ups, school trips and other educational and conservation activities.
In 2006 and in collaboration with the Phuket Marine Biological Centre, Reef-World helped develop Reef-Watch, a simple reef monitoring programme that used recreational divers to using a rover-diver technique observing some simple and basic indicators that allow trends and patterns to be observed. This method of coral reef monitoring can act as an alert network, resulting in a more in-depth and thorough investigations to take place by coral reef specialists.
During 2010, as in independent and international NGO, Reef-World were requested by the government of the Philippines to carry out some simple Environmental Impact Assessments in areas where tourism growth is high. Assessments involved coral reef monitoring using video analysis and also investigating the biodiversity of seagrass sites using Seagrass Watch method.
Since 2012 to the present day, Reef-World are working with the University of Bangor, UK to carry out socio-economic and ecological surveys to monitor the environmental impact of the UNEP initiative, Green Fins through looking at diver behaviour. Our research has resulted in the publication of two peer reviewed papers in the journal, Environmental Management.
From 1996 – 1999, Reef-World coordinated information gathered by Thai dive operators as part of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre’s study on marine mammals. This initiative started from the anecdotal sightings from Thai fishermen and with the support of Reef-World managed to turn these into more useful scientifically accepted sightings, helping to develop the first database on marine mammal sightings ever collected.
In 1999 Reef-World also helped the development and collection of a database on sightings of Whale Sharks in Thailand by dive centres for research purposes on behalf of the PMBC in a study to understand their migration patterns.
2004 – present day
Reef-World has prioritised identifying marine monitoring protocols which are in line with national initiatives across Asia and promotes them within the diving tourism industry sector and related local communities. Citizen Science is an extremely effective way to reach key stakeholders including the general public and policy makers for conveying important environmental information for marine ecosystem protection and coral reef monitoring. This has included harnessing enthusiasm and supporting dive and snorkel businesses to submit coral reef bleaching reports during this exceptionally warm year of 2016 helping scientists better understand the impacts of climate change.