SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 17, October 2016 - Page 84

What does it mean to be a

Green Fins

Top 10 member?

reen Fins, an initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme, provides the only internationally

recognized environmental standards for the scuba-diving and snorkelling industry. It uses a unique three-pronged approach to marine conservation to enable these industries to become stewards for sustainable marine tourism. The Green Fins philosophy is of unconditional sharing; sharing experiences, knowledge, problems and, most importantly, solutions. The message behind it is taken into life by a network of environmental champions; they are the voice of the environmentally sustainable diving industry.

By agreeing to follow the Green Fins Code of Conduct, members commit to change day to day business practices in order to lessen their impact on the marine environment. Replacing the use of anchors by using mooring buoys, including environmental content in pre-dive briefings to reduce direct diver damage to coral, and not selling or displaying marine life, are just an example of some of those practices embraced.

Every single person who is involved – from management, dive staff, boat crew, and guests; go through a transformation. One that takes them to realize that diving is much more than just another hobby or business, it is an activity that can have a big impact on the oceans.

The Top 10 members are dive shops that have the lowest measured environmental impacts as shown through the annual environmental assessments that membership entails. They are the businesses taking that extra mile, and whose hard work and commitment is resulting in measurable conservation impact. It takes a lot of effort to change daily habits within a business, but these dive shops have managed to put key best practices in place, and make new habits. ABWonderdive, located in the very popular diving destination of The Philippines, Puerto Galera has been in the Top 10 list since it was created.

Alice and Bjørn Askholm run a small dive shop in the diving mecca of Puerto Galera. Since becoming one of the first dive shops to sign up as Green Fins members in the area, Alice, Bjørn and their staff have showed unending commitment to being role models for sustainable diving. They have worked closely with Green Fins assessors to fold the code of conduct into their daily business practices from running regular clean ups, to ongoing training for their dive staff to include environmental content in their dive briefings. They have even gone above and beyond by building the capacity of local government officials. The feedback from their guests on their environmental attitude has been unendingly positive, and for the last two years they have been on the Green Fins Top 10 members list. In 2016, having taken on the simple actions for improvement based on their annual assessments, ABWonderdive took the #1 spot by a mile.