Of the 600-strong network of Green Fins members, only 10 can make it into the Green Fins Top 10. These are the 10 most environmentally friendly dive centres, based on Green Fins assessment data.
These 10 dive schools are the best of the best when it comes to sustainability. Yet, each of them has faced challenges along the way. For dive operators who are hoping to make it into the top 10 one day – or who are just keen to improve their own sustainability – hearing from other members is a great way to get inspiration.
That’s why Reef-World (the charity which coordinates Green Fins in partnership with UN Environment Programme) is showcasing members’ stories. By learning about others’ improvements, you might be inspired to make some simple, low-cost changes to your own dive shop. To get more insight into what it takes to reach the Green Fins top 10, we spoke with Robert Scales from Ceningan Divers on Nusa Ceningan, Bali. Ceningan Divers joined the Green Fins programme in 2018.
For you, what are the main benefits of working towards sustainability?
Our eco-focus programme, our philosophies and operational values attract like-minded people. We often have guests comment that they came to dive with us because of our eco-friendly ratings, awards, Green Fins status and our sustainable programme. More and more divers and travellers seek to stay and support businesses that are eco rather than traditional operations. It is rewarding to have a diver or guest come to us and tell us we are doing great. Or they love our free conservation and marine biology workshops; that they appreciate that we have no single use plastic at our dive resort; that we push the use of reef-safe sunscreen; and that we promote the Green Fins Code of Conduct and values.
Which changes implemented as a result of your Green Fins membership are you most proud of?
Pushing ourselves to do more sustainable projects and trying new eco-friendly options. We run several projects that have been on our list for a long time. Some of them we started almost immediately when we open our dive resort. Others we had to work on for a few years. A few projects we had to try several options, trial and errors to find a solution that worked for us.
Green Fins was an inspiration for us to tackle these projects and initiatives. We worked hard to achieve a high ranking on the top 10 Green Fins operator list. We researched the market, looked at options, checked out what others were doing and tried to learn from their success and processes. This was part of our action plan for a couple of years while we were on the waiting list for our first Green Fins assessment.
How have your efforts to become more sustainable impacted your business?
It is an on-going effort: we finish one project, start on another. We always seek to push the envelope when it comes to building our sustainable, eco-friendly Green Fins dive resort.
Guests and divers are a great supportive community: they provide us with live feedback on our offerings. When people are more resistant, it gives us the ability to up our game to address their concerns and questions. The more challenged we are, the more we learn and the more we want to do. We find our guests extremely supportive. For example, when we say, “you cannot use non reef-safe sun cream,” people do not respond negatively. Instead, they ask the right questions to better under why their traditional sun protection is not appropriate and what alternative options they have. Once they understand the impact on the reef, they are willing to adopt our policy and make a change.
We’ve seen positive responses to our projects like the mangrove nursery and the free conservation workshops. We put these small, simple programmes in place to better educate our guests, our community and our team. As a result, we see a positive impact on our business and our guests.
Did you meet any challenges or resistance along the way?
Overall, we had an overwhelmingly positive response from our guests and divers. Frankly, only a few guests made negative comments. For the most part, it was due to a lack of research on their part. Why would you ask for a disposable straw at an eco-resort that advertises itself as a zero single-use-plastic location?
What are you working on improving now?
We’re working on improving our long-term storage facilities for products that can be harmful. For example, our compressor and engine oil. We already have a system in place; however, we are looking to set up something more permanent following the latest environmental protection standards.
We are also in the process of establishing a small coral restoration programme; mostly for education and research purpose at one of our adopted dive sites. We reach out to industry experts and look at what has been done, using data to make the right decision. We also follow established protocols and standards.