Guidance material on how recreational diving can protect fragile marine biodiversity threatened by growing coastal tourism and support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been launched at Asia’s largest and oldest dive expo by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners. The Green Fins Toolbox, developed through a public-private partnership initiative working with diving and snorkeling businesses, communities and governments in Southeast and South Asia, was unveiled during Asia Dive Expo (ADEX), held at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre.
The diving industry adds over one million new divers every year, putting additional pressure on fragile coastal ecologies, in particular coral reefs. While helping to drive economic growth, intensive scuba diving can directly damage corals, making them susceptible to other stresses as well as reduce live coral cover. Poorly managed beach and reef tourism constitutes an environmental threat and undermines the industry’s primary asset, the coral reef.
“Green Fins provides guidance based on solid coral reef and diving industry know-how,” said Isabelle Louis, acting UNEP Regional Director and Representative. “It helps small and medium sized businesses show conservation leadership and turn environmental risks into opportunity, ensuring a sustainable industry that protects marine ecosystems, creates long-term livelihoods, and contributes to implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.”
Designed for the marine tourism industry, as well as local and national marine resource managers, the toolbox also includes a two-minute video on sustainable diving titled “Green Fins for a Blue Planet”, produced by UNEP in partnership with syndicated cartoonist Jim Toomey . The video shows how divers, dive centre operators and owners, and governments can influence both the environmental and economic sustainability of the industry. The Two Minutes on Oceans video series produced with Mr. Toomey, the creator of the Sherman’s Lagoon cartoon strip, began in 2011 through a partnership between UNEP’s Regional Office for North America and Mr. Toomey; it now includes eight short videos, which provide the general public with scientific information about urgent issues facing our oceans today, as well as recommended actions to address them. Animation and humor are used to illustrate the importance of oceans to human well-being and the environment. The toolbox and video draw on the lessons of the Green Fins Initiative established by UNEP and the Reef-World Foundation.
Originally established in Thailand in 2004, Green Fins is now active in six countries in Asia; the toolbox will be used for implementing and geographically expanding Green Fins as well as strengthening collaboration with key industry partners on environmental mainstreaming.
The toolbox provides outreach and capacity building to dive centres and their customers, and also supports governments in developing and implementing regulations. The initiative also involves regular assessment of industry performance against a 15-point code of conduct and supports improved industry practices and the development of regulatory frameworks.