The Reef-World Foundation and Chamber of Diving & Watersports (CDWS) are pleased to announce Green Fins– a UN Environment Programme initiative which provides the world’s only internationally recognised standards for diving and snorkelling – has now been expanded to be available to all dive and snorkel operators nationwide across Egypt.
Green Fins was piloted in South Sinai Governorate in September 2019 and has now been expanded nationwide, following a week-long training for six new Green Fins Assessors in Red Sea Governorate (23 to 29 February 2020). Through 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 snorkelling.
Following the recent lifting of UK flight restrictions to Sharm el Sheikh, and the resultant increase in tourism to the already popular country, The Reef-World Foundation is reminding tourists of the importance of protecting the reefs they visit; urging them to follow environmental best practice and book with a Green Fins operator wherever possible. The CDWS is rallying more dive centres to sign up to the Green Fins initiative to help improve their sustainability and prove they are following 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 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 snorkelling tourism industry.
Chloe Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “We’re proud to be helping protect Red Sea coral reefs by expanding Green Fins nationwide across Egypt. Congratulations to the Green Fins Hurghada Assessor team members who 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. Through their one-to-one consultations, the Green Fins national team in Egypt will play a vital role in helping the country’s marine tourism industry improve its sustainability; 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 ambitious action plan to strengthen sustainability within the marine tourism sector across Egypt and we are excited to see the continued results.”
Amr El Ezabi, Director of the Egyptian State Tourist Office (UK and Ireland), said: “This is the kind of partnership I value and search for. Based on respect, exchange of knowledge, building capacity and at the end realise the targets through sharing the culture. It fulfils all the requirements of sustainability. We are building a community together. Marketing the Red Sea on this basis is solid and sustainable. We are very happy about the implementation of Green Fins in Egypt.
While Green Fins is usually adopted by a government body (which integrates the programme’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. CDWS is a non-profit organisation and Egyptian operators pay an annual CDWS membership fee of 5,500 Egyptian pounds (LE) to cover costs associated with audits. For those who would like to voluntarily participate in Green Fins, an additional fee will be charged to cover the associated costs of the programme. The Ministry of Environment is CDWS’ main counterpart in the implementation of Green Fins Egypt. The country is the first in its region and 11th worldwide to officially adopt Green Fins.
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: of a possible score of 330, the lower the score, the lower its impact. The assessment then enables Green Fins assessors to offer practical alternatives to the most pressing threats posed by that business. To ensure its members are fully compliant with the Green Fins Code of Conduct, the CDWS will introduce a minimum environmental impact benchmark of for Green Fins certification; a world first for Green Fins.