The Reef-World Foundation has launched a new online platform, the Green Fins Hub, which will assist Curaçao’s leading sustainable dive tourism operators as Green Fins Digital Members in developing best environmental practices for marine tourism.
These leading sustainable dive tourism operators (Ocean Encounters, The Dive Bus, Scubacao and GO WEST Diving) in Curaçao have all become Green Fins Digital Members to reinforce the absolute need to create change in order to provide future generations with an opportunity for a healthy and sustainable environment, both above and below the waterline.
“From a private sector point of view, Dive Curacao is incredibly proud to support sustainable dive tourism and these leaders of the Curaçao Dive Tourism Industry to create change. Afterall, if we do nothing to support the environment, we will eventually have an unsustainable dive tourism industry in Curaçao. This will lead to an inability to deliver exceptional dive travel and vacation experiences in the future. Bottom line is that apathy can no longer be embraced”,says Bryan Horne, Founder of Dive Curacao
Why should responsible Curaçao Dive Tourism operators become a Green Fins Members?
The most important reason why Curaçao Tourism operators should become Green Fins Members is, of course, to support the environmental component of Curaçao. Coral reefs in Curacao comprise 104 square kilometers of extremely bio-diverse systems and therefore represent a high economic value.
Consequently, it is important to protect the dive sites and snorkel sites to ensure the sustainable growth of this valuable industry. The same way these dive operators take part in certification programs to raise their service level, The Reef-World Foundation developed the assessment system to measure compliance to the “Green Fins Code of Conduct” that was co-created with UNEP. The Green Fins tools and resources also support industry compliance to Sustainable Diving and Snorkelling ISO standards that address the needs of the industry to meet the rapid shift in demand for sustainable tourism plus the mounting threat towards the marine environment.
Accordingly, initiatives like this combined with government support for progressive marine management legislation will change, legitimize and strengthen the position of the dive tourism industry in Curaçao. As recent studies have shown, their contribution to the Curaçao economy is of great value.
“Marine tourism plays an important role in Curaçao’s economy and as the industry grows, it is critical to establish practical approaches to protect the marine environment. By adopting Green Fins, dive operators are taking vital steps in ensuring Curaçao’s dive market is sustainably managed to increase corals and marine life’s resilience to wider global threats and protect the valuable marine ecosystems for future generations.” said JJ Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation
About the Green Fins Hub
The Green Fins Hub is the latest development by The Reef-World Foundation to meet the growing industry demand for environmentally friendly underwater sports. The foundation recently surveyed more than 2,400 dive tourists and professionals, 75% of whom said they are willing to pay more for marine tour operators with a firm commitment to sustainability.
Created in partnership with UNEP and industry key players such as PADI, PSS, RAID, DAN, ZuBlu and PADI Travel, the Green Fins Hub hosts both the existing Certified Members and registrants to its new digital membership program.
The Hub includes a Community Forum where members can discuss solutions and other topics related to sustainable marine tourism with like-minded operators, NGOs, governments and industry partners; a Solutions Library with information on how to implement best practices; and an Action Plan Tracker to track, collaborate and improve operation’s conservation efforts.
It is hoped the new global digital platform will increase Green Fins uptake, not only in Curaçao, but globally, from the current 700 Green Fins certified operators in 14 countries to a potential 30,000 operators worldwide.
The Green Fins digital membership is available to dive, snorkel and liveaboard operators around the world, in which they will receive environmental scores based on a detailed online self-evaluation of their operation’s environmental practices and most importantly, solutions and actions to the results of their self-evaluation.
This process is seen as the first step to implement Green Fins in Curaçao on a national level with a government-led team to enable dive operators to become Green Fins Certified Members where they will receive annual in-person assessment, on-site training for staff and consultation to help the business develop and implement best practice to improve the sustainability of the marine tourism industry.
Operators that have registered, successfully completed their online self-evaluation and developed their own action plan will be provided with a digital certificate enabling tourists to identify operations that have committed to taking steps to reduce their environmental footprint whilst carrying out their activities.
For more information about Green Fins and the new digital membership, visit www.greenfins.net/digital-membership/
Header Image: Frank Do
Seahorse National Park announced on Eleuthera in The Bahamas
This week has seen the announcement of the designation of Seahorse National Park at Hatchet Bay Cave and Sweetings Pond on Eleuthera. This monumental announcement comes after years of efforts from the BNT and its partners in advocating for the protection of Sweetings Pond and its surrounding areas as an official national park under the BNT’s management.
Sweetings Pond is a large, land-locked saltwater pond in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera. It has many unique natural features, but the most notable of them all is its incredible seahorse population, which is believed to be the densest population of seahorses in the world. The new 548-acre national park protects the entire one-mile-long pond and the surrounding terrestrial area. The land surrounding Sweetings Pond is a blend of intact coppice, mangroves, and farmlands. In addition, the new national park includes the extensive Hatchet Bay Caves system. This historic cave system is a popular attraction and contains a number of impressive geological features. It is one of the longest dry cave systems in The Bahamas.
Since 2014, the BNT has been leading efforts to have the area declared as a national park. This included years of public outreach and stakeholder consultations in communities across Eleuthera; education presentations in local schools; science and research efforts; and engaging consecutive government administrations. In 2018, the BNT submitted the “20 by 20 Marine Protection Plan” to the government, which included the recommendation to declare Sweetings Pond and other areas in The Bahamas as protected areas.
During the lease signing ceremony for Seahorse National Park, Minister Clay Sweeting, said, “This lease agreement for Sweetings Pond has been a long time coming. It represents a milestone in our journey towards sustainable development. It symbolises our collective responsibility to safeguard our natural heritage and create a harmonious relationship between economic progress and environmental preservation.
“I would like to express my gratitude to all stakeholders in this process of drafting and finalising this lease agreement. Their dedication, expertise, and commitment has been crucial in ensuring that this agreement falls in line with our vision of creating a thriving ecosystem while promoting responsible usage. Let us continue to preserve the jewel that is Sweetings Pond for many generations to come.”
The BNT invites the public to stay tuned for more news about its plan for the country’s newest national park: Seahorse National Park at Hatchet Bay Cave and Sweetings Pond!
To learn more about the role the BNT plays in managing terrestrial and marine national parks, conserving wildlife, and informing environmental policy, please visit its website: www.bnt.bs
Banner Image: A lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus), female, clining to algae in an alkaline pond in The Bahamas by Shane Gross
PADI Club invites Ocean Lovers on exclusive dive trip to Bonaire this September
Following the popularity of the PADI Club trip to Belize at the end of July, a second “dive trip of a lifetime” has just been announced by PADI Club to Bonaire this September 23-30, 2023.
Offered exclusively for PADI Club members as part of their yearly benefits, attendees will get to seek adventure while staying at the all-inclusive Buddy Dive Resort, one of PADI’s premier members on the island. Other PADI Members in Bonaire – including Toucan Divers, Divi Flamingo, Wanna Dive, Dive Friends and Scuba Do – will also be hosting various dive experiences throughout the week.
“Bonaire is a unique and beautiful gem in the Dutch Caribbean and we want to show our Club Members this little island looms large as a dive destination,” says Zach Pavkov, PADI Club Operations Manager. “This trip offers participants a chance to not only explore a world-class diving destination but do so through some of the very best PADI Operators.”
PADI Club members will receive a generous discount for this seven-day diving adventure, with packages starting at $1,739 per diver for double occupancy.
Included in the package are:
- social events that include hosted dinners, cocktail parties and live music
- transportation in Buddy Dive Resort’s famous pick-up truck
- daily shore diving and boat diving
- accommodation, with the option to share a room with another solo diver or rent out one, two and three-bedroom apartments to host larger groups of divers
- surface interval activities that include PADI Seminars and island excursions like hiking and bird-watching.
“Because the water surrounding Bonaire has been an established marine park for 44 years, Bonaire is now a top-ranked destination with abundant marine life that includes scorpionfish, flounder and frogfish, moray eels, hawksbill turtles and eagle rays, ” continues Pavkov.
With limited spots available, the list of participants will be decided on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who are not yet PADI Club Members but are interested in joining the trip can sign-up, which will also give them access to:
- 20% of PADI eLearning® programs and PADI Gear™
- a free ReActivate® online refresher
- a free DAN® Prepared Diver course
- a subscription to Scuba Diving® magazine
- access to the PADI Club Celebrity Speaker Series webinars
- brand partner benefits from GoPro, Uber, Salt Life and more
To further support ocean lovers to create positive ocean change, five percent of the PADI Club membership fee will go towards supporting conservation efforts around the globe.
“PADI Club benefits are designed not just to empower divers to explore the ocean, but also enable them to play a pivotal role in saving the ocean too,” says Pavkov. “This year’s additional expedition to Bonaire gives our community the chance to come together and explore our shared blue planet in a truly meaningful and connected way.”