The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme’s Green Fins initiative – has launched a new poster on Green Fins Environmental Best Practice for Snorkellers. These guidelines help marine tourism operators inform their guests about environmental best practices while snorkelling in an effort to protect marine ecosystems.
Snorkelling is one of the most popular water sports worldwide. Unlike many other marine tourism activities, it requires minimal equipment and training, making it one of the most accessible activities for tourists to explore the underwater world. However, if not done responsibly, the cumulative impact from all snorkellers worldwide could increase pressure on the already vulnerable coral reefs.
Harmful practices while snorkelling, such as fish feeding, standing on coral, and chasing marine life, have been observed globally. Often, tourists aren’t aware of the negative impact of these actions.
Due to its popularity and tourism restarting in many parts of the world, The Reef-World Foundation finds it important to raise awareness and educate both marine tourism operators and tourists on conducting snorkelling activities in an environmentally friendly manner. This can help minimize the negative impact on the marine environment, encouraging the tourism industry to shape a better post-pandemic future.
Snorkelling, unlike diving, is often an unled or unsupervised activity, and in many places is not well regulated. Therefore, the Green Fins Environmental Best Practice for Snorkellers poster can also be used by tourists to equip themselves with the knowledge and guidance to limit potentially negative impacts. This enables them to enjoy the coral reefs and other marine ecosystems responsibly for years to come, including when they’re snorkelling independently without guides.
The guidance includes a wide range of recommendations adapted from the Green Fins Code of Conduct: reducing toxic chemicals from entering the ocean by using reef-safe sunscreens, abiding by the local laws, and learning how to use snorkel equipment. These recommendations are consolidated by professionals and marine tourism operators in the industry.
Chloe Harvey, Director at Reef-World, said: “Snorkelling is a fabulous way to get people into the water and enjoy the wonders of the marine environment. Such experiences are a powerful tool to inspire people to make changes to protect these vital marine resources. However, there are very few touchpoints for raising awareness of best practice along a regular snorkeller’s pathway from land to ocean.
We hope that this new Green Fins Environmental Best Practice for Snorkellers will fill this gap — provide vital guidance and allow holidaymakers to enjoy snorkelling without unwittingly jeopardising the health of the very environment they have come to see.”