Charitable Travel promotes sustainable tourism through its support of Reef-World’s Green Fins initiative
Tropical marine ecosystems (coral reefs, seagrass & mangroves) are vital carbon sinks and provide critical ecosystem services to humanity. They’re under severe threat from growing global stressors such as those associated with climate change (e.g. coral bleaching) and local stressors such as preventable irresponsible tourism practices (expected to grow over time in line with projected increases in reef tourism).
Degradation of these ecosystems and their ecological services to local communities leads to erosion of food stability and coastal protection, job losses and diminished returns from tourism due to reduced aesthetic appeal. Without corals and related ecosystems, the ocean would lose a huge diversity of life.
Currently an estimated one million new scuba divers are certified each year with millions more snorkelling worldwide on coral reefs. The survival of the marine tourism industry depends on healthy coral reefs with lots of marine life and we all have a part to play. While irresponsible tourism can pose a threat to corals, well-managed tourism can provide many benefits, including economic opportunities for local communities that rely on coral reefs. By acting as responsible travellers or operators, each of us can help reduce the pressures tourism puts on corals and other sensitive marine ecosystems; thus making reefs healthier and more resilient to other global stressors. That’s why Charitable Travel is supporting Reef-World’s Green Fins: an initiative that works with governments and operators to drive sustainable tourism.
Travellers who visit the ocean can reduce their negative impact on coral reefs and other sensitive marine ecosystems by following a few simple guidelines, as outlined by the Green Fins Code of Conduct:
Reef-World is working to make sustainable diving the social norm through Green Fins; an initiative it runs in partnership with UN Environment Programme (UNEP). This proven and established conservation approach helps dive and snorkel operators become more sustainable as well as educating travellers about best environmental practice. It also provides the only internationally recognised environmental standards for snorkelling and scuba diving and enables policy makers to identify areas of high environmental risk within the industry. This means they can work with business owners to find a suitable solution to local threats.
Gabriel Grimsditch, UNEP’s marine ecosystems expert, said: “Coral reefs are hugely valuable in terms of marine biodiversity, harbouring at least a quarter of all marine species and providing support to the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people around the world. So, protecting them from the impacts of a burgeoning tourism industry is vital to the health of our oceans. Tourists can also have a tangible impact on the marine biodiversity hotspots they visit by always following the Green Fins guidelines for best practice. Together, we can all take positive actions that will protect our coral reefs, keeping them healthy and thriving for years to come.”