|Founder(s)||United Nations Environment Programme|
|Area served|| Indonesia,
|Focus(es)||Environmentalism within the marine tourism sector|
|Mission||"To protect and conserve coral reefs by establishing and implementing environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkeling tourism industry."|
|Motto||Save Coral Reefs Today, Dive the Green Fins way.|
Green Fins is a project operating in South East Asia and the Indian Ocean that works with scuba diving and snorkel operators to implement robust environmental standards for the diving and snorkeling industry through a Code of Conduct. The overall aim of the project is to mitigate damaging impacts to the marine environment from the marine tourism sector. The Code of Conduct is a set of 15 points designed to tackle the most common and detrimental effects of SCUBA diving and snorkeling activities on the habitat in which they operate.
The mission statement of Green Fins is:
"To protect and conserve coral reefs by establishing and implementing environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkeling tourism industry."
The Green Fins Approach
Dive centers and snorkel tour operators sign a membership form pledging to adhere to the Code of Conduct. Trained Green Fins assessors visit members annually to assess their compliance to the Code of Conduct and provide consultations for improvement, and environmental training to all staff at the member centre to support and build the capacity of those individuals to reduce their environmental impacts. Members often receive printed materials to support their efforts to reduce impacts to the marine environment including the Green Fins ICONS, which visually outline best practices for divers and snorkelers. These materials are available in many different languages.
Green Fins was established in 2004 as a project by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and was implemented by the Secretariat of the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA). The project was initiated and coordinated by COBSEA's secretariat as part of the effort to increase public awareness with an overall aim to better management practices that will contribute to the conservation of coral reefs (and other associated marine ecosystems such as seagrass beds and mangroves) and reduce current unsustainable tourism practices.
Currently there are four active member countries of the Green Fins project. Thailand and the Philippines started in 2004, Indonesia in 2007 and Malaysia in 2008. Each individual country is autonomous, running the project to their own aims and objectives to fulfil the mission statement. This is done under the supervision of the Network Leader with the Network Leader Assistant as a supporting role. The position of the Network Leader is usually fulfilled by government staff who work under a relevant department overseeing the protection and control of either marine habitats or tourism.
The project is supported by the UK charity The Reef-World Foundation based in Anglesey, north Wales. Their role as International Coordinators of the project is to assist countries with training and technical assistance under the direction of UNEP whilst helping to promote and advertise the countries various projects and successes on a global scale. The Reef-World Foundation has developed the Green Environmental Assessment Rating System (GEARS) to enable a results-based management approach through the Green Fins assessments. The GEARS system allows a simple monitoring system that is able to measure the success of several objectives or milestones required to reach the overall goal. It does this with a green/yellow/red rating system, based on a weighted score for each objective, allowing for industry wide problems to be easily isolated.
In December 2012, The Reef-World Foundation in partnership with UNEP were successfully awarded a grant through the IUCN Mangroves for the Future Regional initiative. This will see the Green Fins network expand to Vietnam and the Maldives over a two-year project ending in December 2014.
In April 2013 a research paper was accepted by the scientific journal Ocean and Coastal Management titled “The Green Fins approach for monitoring and promoting environmentally sustainable scuba diving operations in South East Asia” and was published in Volume 78, June 2013, pages 35–44. The authors of this paper are from The Reef-World Foundation with co-authors from Green Fins Thailand based at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre (PMBC), Phuket, Thailand.
The Green Fins project is free to join and all dive operators have the opportunity to be involved in the project. There are no costs involved in joining but members are expected to enter into the spirit that that can always improve their management policies in an effort to adhere to the Code of Conduct and protect the marine environment.
Outreach and Environmental Activities
Green Fins encourages dive centres to engage staff, tourists, local businesses and communities in environmental activities such as beach and reef clean ups. Reef monitoring is also promoted, Green Fins does not endorse a particular methodology leaving it to the choice of the dive centre depending on the resources available to them.
Several spin-off projects may be run alongside the annual assessments to further promote marine conservation, these have included 'Say No to Plastic' awareness campaigns, shark awareness with local communities and schools, and marine conservation education programs with local fishing communities. In 2012, Green Fins ran the first Green Fins Ambassador Program in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. The program works with the most enthusiastic dive guides in the area, providing them with additional environmental training and encouraging these individuals to be environmental ambassadors within the diving, and surrounding communities. The pilot program was a huge success and has now been replicated in Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines, with plans to reach out to other diving locations.
- "Green Fins Code of Conduct". Green Fins. 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
- "Green Fins". International Coral Reef Action Network. 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
- "Coastal and marine habitat conservation". Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia. 2008. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
- "Green Fins". The Reef-World Foundation. 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
- "How Green are your Fins?". ZiZ Asia. 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
- Green Fins Official website
- Green Fins Indonesia
- Green Fins Malaysia
- Green Fins Philippines
- Green Fins Thailand
- The Reef-World Foundation