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Coral reefs are a vital ecosystem providing food security, coastal protection and employment from tourism for millions of people around the world. Indonesia is home to one of the most extensive coral reef systems in the world and, with such a large population, it has more people living close to (and reliant on) coral reefs than anywhere else in the world.
Unfortunately, reefs are heavily impacted by both global and local threats. The effects of global climate change – such as increased ocean temperatures and a more acidic ocean – are a major cause of coral reefs bleaching and dying.
Locally, there are many other threats including anchoring, direct diver damage, chemical discharge from cleaning agents, fish feeding and sunscreen use. Only 6.5% of Indonesia’s reef are classified as in excellent condition while 36% are in bad condition (Indonesian Institute of Sciences).
As home to a vast range of biodiversity, coral reefs draw the majority of the world’s scuba diving and snorkelling tourism. First-hand experience of these beautiful ecosystems often inspires divers and snorkelers to love and protect them. Simultaneously, poor practices from dive and snorkel operators and tourists – both above and below the water - can directly damage fragile corals.
With one million divers being certified each year and many more snorkelling on coral reefs around the world, the need to manage the balance between creating advocates through diving and protecting reefs from dive-related damage is greater than ever before.
Green Fins, a UN Environment initiative coordinated internationally by The Reef-World Foundation, sets the standards for environmentally-friendly diving and snorkelling. It provides guidelines and resources that help marine tourism businesses reduce their environmental impacts both above and below the water. So far, Green Fins has been adopted by governments and NGOs in 10 countries (and counting!).
Reef-World launched Green Fins Indonesia in January 2018 with the Coral Triangle Center, its government partners at the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and 14 dive and snorkel operators across Bali and Komodo. The initiative has been extremely well received with almost daily membership requests from all around the country. Training more assessors will help meet this need; facilitating the expansion of the initiative and spreading its positive impact across tourism hotspots around the country.
This project aims to reduce threats to coral reefs at Indonesian tourism hotspots by improving the environmental sustainability of marine tourism businesses. The project will focus in regions of high-demand such as Bali (including Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembonga, Nusa Ceningan), also Komodo, the Gili Islands and Sulawesi.
Reef-World will train national teams of tourism industry workers, with government support, so the Green Fins approach can continue to improve marine tourism standards and protect coral reefs long after the project’s completion.
Sustainable tourism can only be a success when everyone works together. Under the Green Fins umbrella, the key players who manage and use coral reefs are brought together to identify and mitigate high risk tourism practices. By reducing the threats Indonesia’s reefs face locally, we increase their resilience to face global threats including climate change.
Visiting coral reefs on a near-daily basis, dive and snorkel operators see first-hand the environmental changes coral reefs are experiencing and can be instrumental in their protection. Our project focuses on improving environmental best practice of these businesses and their staff; establishing marine tourism as a role model industry for sustainable use of coral reefs.
Indonesia hosts several world-class dive sites and the tourism industry is set to grow substantially in the coming years. In 2016, 12 million people visited Indonesia and a recent tourism report predicts a growth rate of 10% each year. By implementing Green Fins, Reef-World can establish best environmental practice as a foundation for sustainable growth and safeguard the ecosystem of Indonesia’s coral reefs for future generations.
The $10,000 raised by the Footprints Network will cover:
Green Fins helps governments and businesses work together to solve local issues without conflict.
The Coral Triangle Center (CTC), a highly renowned NGO, is our leading partner for Green Fins alongside the Indonesian Government.
Dive operators are a significant source of employment for communities in reef tourism hotspots. Local guides are exposed to environmental education and best practice, local solutions and annual training to support positive changes in their environmental habits. They not only pass this information on to tourists but also champion better environmental habits among their own communities.
By involving Government officials in this grassroots approach, Green Fins helps communities, businesses and governments work together more easily and in a neutral and collaborative manner to mitigate local environmental threats. For example, in other Green Fins countries, these collaborations have resulted in the creation of a hotline where divers can report illegal fishing and other environmental violations.
Safety standards for diving are so deeply embedded in the industry they are now a habit. Though Green Fins, we are working to achieve that for environmental standards.
Reef-World’s aim is to make sustainable diving and snorkelling the social norm. Already active across 10 countries and over 550 operators, this project will protect coral reefs by cementing environmental best practice as a foundation for the sustainable growth of Indonesia’s marine tourism industry.
One diver knocking and breaking a piece of coral doesn’t sound like much, but Green Fins tackles the cumulative impacts from all these divers, which can add up to intense local threats in dive and snorkel hotspots. What’s more, Green Fins is becoming a recognised standard allowing tourists to choose a dive operator in line with their environmental values.