Following a week-long training for six new Green Fins Assessors in Egypt’s Red Sea Governorate and the implementation of the Green Fins initiative nationally, the Egyptian marine tourism industry is playing its part in protecting coral reefs from the negative impacts associated with diving and snorkeling..
Egypt’s Red Sea has long been a popular dive and vacation destination, and following the lifting of UK flight restrictions to Sharm el Sheikh, there has been a further increase in tourism to the already popular area, Through the Green Fins initiative, the Reef-World Foundation is reminding tourists of the importance of protecting the reefs they visit, urging them to follow environmental best practices and book with a Green Fins operator wherever possible. The CDWS is rallying more dive centers to sign up to the Green Fins initiative to help improve their sustainability and follow environmental best practice.
Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or plastic debris as well as the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures.
Green Fins is a UN Environment Programme initiative, internationally coordinated by The Reef-World Foundation, which helps identify and mitigate these risks through environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkeling tourism industry.
The newly qualified Green Fins Hurghada Assessor team members are now certified to recruit, train, and conduct robust assessments to evaluate the environmental impact of dive and snorkel operators in the country. They will also provide training about the ecology and threats to coral reefs and offer practical, local and low-cost solutions to these threats, ultimately protecting the Red Sea’s precious coral reefs for future generations.
Hesham Gabr, chair of the Chamber of Diving & Watersports, said: “To date, nine Egyptian dive and snorkel operators have already joined the global network of nearly 600 trained and assessed Green Fins members, with significant interest from other operators who are awaiting their training and assessment. In the coming year, we aim to certify 30 marine tourism operators, train 150 dive guides and raise awareness of sustainability best practice among 30,000 tourists. Green Fins is a critical part of our action plan to strengthen sustainability within the marine tourism sector across Egypt, and we are excited to see the continued results.”
While Green Fins is usually adopted by a government body (which integrates the program’s activities with their annual plans and absorbs associated costs), in Egypt the industry has collaborated to bring Green Fins to the area through the CDWS, a non-profit organization, and Egyptian operators pay an annual CDWS membership fee to cover costs associated with audits.
The Green Fins approach includes proven assessment criteria to identify and mitigate high-risk practices both above and below the water. Green Fins members are evaluated annually based on a 15-point code of conduct, which measures the company’s impact on coral reefs. The assessment then enables Green Fins assessors to offer practical alternatives to the most pressing threats posed by that business. The launch of Green Fins Egypt was made possible thanks to financing support from the United Nations Development Programme.
For more information, visit www.reef-world.org, www.greenfins.net or http://www.cdws.travel. Dive and snorkel operators interested in signing up to Green Fins can find the membership application form at: https://www.greenfins.net/how-to-join.