The Reef-World Foundation, a UK-based NGO, and international coordinators of the UN Environment’s Green Fins initiative, launches the Green Fins International Year of the Reef 2018 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.
Divided into four parts, the campaign will start with ‘Redefine the Dive’ (February to April 2018), focusing on underwater behaviour, how to be the most environmentally aware diver to have zero impact dives. Providing solutions to dive guides and outlining to divers how they are expected to behave underwater.
International Year of the Reef
In 1997, the first International Year of the Reef (IYOR) was declared in response to the increasing threats to coral reefs and its related ecosystems, including the first global coral bleaching event. Now in 2018, the third IYOR is 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.
One group of people with a vested interest in our coral reefs are SCUBA divers. On the frontlines of it all, they see daily changes on the reefs, help record bleaching events and most importantly bring people face to face with the underwater world inspiring them to take action to protect it. As with many instances of nature tourism, poor practices can lead to impacts on the very resource being admired.
Diving for conservation
A unique initiative of the UN Environment and The Reef-World Foundation, Green Fins has been working for over ten years to effectively reduce local threats from the diving industry, simultaneously helping to boost its ability to engage customers and local communities in conservation. Dive shops are assessed on their compliance to best practices; and by collectively reducing the impacts locally, the diving industry leaves the reefs stronger and more resilient to large scale changes.
Over the course of IYOR 2018, the Green Fins campaign will be promoting solutions to key local threats identified through years of assessment data, and encouraging key stakeholders of the diving industry to take action to reduce the pressures on coral reefs. The campaign will focus on four Action Points:
- Promoting environmentally positive diver behaviour,
- Reducing anchor damage,
- Reducing fish feeding and,
- Promoting a circular economy
By following these action points, campaign partners and followers will be contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals 14 (Life Below Water) and 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production), from the global agenda to transform the world by 2030.
Action Point #1: REDEFINE THE DIVE (February – April 2018)
Redefine the Dive is the first Green Fins solution of the campaign. While one errant fin kick damaging the reef does not amount to much damage, many reef diving locations are dense with dive shops, each taking several guests on two to three dives a day. If 70% of those divers make contact with the reef, the cumulative impacts can add up to a substantial threat affecting hundreds of m2 of reefs. Contacts do not only damage coral with physical breakage but can spread disease and weaken immunity. If a storm or a bleaching event occurs, these reefs are far weaker and less likely to survive.
Redefine the Dive will demonstrate how dive guides are in a unique position to show tourists the majesty of the underwater world and help them do so in an environmentally responsible manner. Scientific research has shown that a good combination of environmental pre-dive briefings and underwater corrections reduce the rates of diver contacts with the reef. At the same time, dive tourists will get a deeper understanding of what to expect from their dive shops and dive guides. Redefine the Dive will explain the problem and share all the tips and tricks dive guides and divers need to know to help protect the marine environment.
The #RedefineTheDive infographic has now been released, which brings together all these tips and tricks, and new ones too, in one place!
The solutions to the big global threats are so removed from our daily lives but one does not need to be a politician or enforcer to make a difference. Tackling local threats through tangible, achievable and proven solutions can make the world of difference. This IYOR is a chance for divers and the diving industry to take the lead and collectively show that healthy oceans really do mean a healthy business.
Follow Green Fins on social media and take action today. Share. Print. Post. Tag #RedefineTheDive and help #Saveourreefs.
Find all the information you need to promote the campaign by following this link: https://trello.com/b/fEeL9QWv
The Reef-World Foundation is a small, effective UK charity that is working with UNEP to pioneer a collaborative approach between Governments and the private sector through the initiative Green Fins. Green Fins is a unique management approach for sustainable marine tourism, using the passion often found naturally in divers and snorkelers as a springboard for long-term behaviour change from Government level, right down to the communities that rely most heavily on coastal resources. The objective is to increase the resilience of coral reefs and other tropical ecosystems to the global impacts of climate change and other threats, so we can all enjoy the beauty and bounty of the seas for generations to come. Main contact at The Reef-World Foundation: Juliana Corrales: firstname.lastname@example.org