As with most things travel related, recommendations for dive sites and operators are priceless. If you’re anything like us, you go with word of mouth over the glossy promotions. If someone you know says Company A was great, your planning just got a whole lot easier. However, first-hand advice isn’t always available and that’s where Green Fins comes in for an environmentally friendly recommendation.
Green Fins is an initiative of the United Nations Environmental Program. They recognised the need for increased awareness and better management practices around marine tourism. In the last decade and a half, more than 4,500 dive professionals and over 550 dive centres have been trained and assessed on the environmental impacts of diving and snorkelling on coral reefs.
An environmentally friendly approach
Coordinated by the Reef World Foundation, the Green Fins approach is a simple. Provide international standards for diving and snorkelling operations with the aim of reducing the impact on the marine environment. The standards are based on a Code of Conduct covering the most common and impactful diving and snorkelling activities. For example, anchoring, touching and taking of marine life and fish feeding.
Dive centres and snorkel operators sign up to the Green Fins Code of Conduct and are assessed annually. Green Fins provides feedback on the assessments, as well as training and low-cost alternative practices to help operators run their businesses as sustainably as possible.
It wouldn’t really be an assessment if there wasn’t a score. While the evaluation system can seem unwieldy (there are a massive 330 points of assessment!) it is simple in its correlation. The lower the score, the lower the environmental impact of the dive or snorkel operation.
Recognising the need for ongoing protection of the marine environment, operators are required to reduce their impact score year on year to keep their Green Fins membership.
The top 10 and the rest
Green Fins has worked with dive and snorkel operators in South East Asia since its inception to address the conservation needs of reefs within the Coral Triangle. So, it’s not surprising to see the Top 10 Green Fins centres are based in this region.
The Green Fins website lists all its members and their environmental impact scores. It makes it easy for travellers to find and pick an environmentally friendly operator for diving and snorkelling.
Working at a higher level
Green Fins also works with various levels of government and other non-government organisations to address the local impacts of tourism on the whole marine environment. They’ve run plastic awareness programs and local education programs for fishing communities. They’re keen supporters of reef and beach clean ups, as well as reef monitoring programs. Put simply, they’re looking out for the health of our beloved oceans and we applaud them. Be sure to take a look at how the mimic movement is helping with this too.
The dive and snorkel industry – individuals and operators – is in a unique position to be able to use and promote sustainable practices and make lasting changes. Using a reputable, environmentally friendly operator when you go on holidays shows that you support the work they’re doing and encourages their continued protection of our oceans. You have the power to choose!