Coral reefs are invaluable
Coral reefs are some of the most valuable ecosystems on the planet. Taking up less than 1% of the world’s surface, coral reefs are home to more than 25% of all known marine fish species. Without coral, the ocean would lose a huge diversity of life.
As well as acting as the building blocks of entire marine ecosystems, coral reefs provide seafood which offers food security to entire communities, creates employment for thousands of people and also act as the first line of defence from coastal storms. Coral is also an important source of many new medicines which are being developed to treat cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other illnesses. According to The Nature Conservancy, “on-reef” tourism, such as scuba diving, snorkelling and marine wildlife viewing, generates around $19 million globally.
Coral reefs are threatened
Currently, 75% of the world’s reefs are threatened. According to the World Resources Institute, by the 2030s, more than 90% of the world’s reefs will be threatened by local human activities, warming and ocean acidification. Projected increases in tourist numbers visiting reefs will further threaten them through preventable, irresponsible business practices and tourist behaviours.
Since coral reefs are facing significant and immediate threats, reducing direct local threats (such as diving-related damage) is critical to make them more resilient. This leaves coral reef ecosystems stronger and healthier for a more hopeful future.
Through Green Fins, around 600 marine tourism businesses have committed, complied with and shown demonstrable improvement in 15 key areas related to negative environmental impact.
The Good News
Coral reefs are remarkably resilient; by removing direct threats posed by marine tourism, reefs are better able to survive wider stressors, such as the effects of climate change. There is hope for their survival if we take action now.
The tourism industry plays a vital role in protecting reefs
Currently an estimated one million new divers are certified each year with millions more snorkelling worldwide on coral reefs. While the expansion of global coral reef tourism has resulted in growing concern about associated environmental impacts, well-managed tourism can lighten the load reefs have to carry.
Dive and snorkel operators are uniquely positioned to enact positive, lasting changes within their communities and among customers. By educating and empowering them to use alternatives to unsustainable practices, we can develop a sustainable tourism industry and protect local marine habitats. That’s why the Green Fins initiative works with the global marine tourism industry and its governing bodies to drive environmentally friendly diving and snorkelling practices.
By supporting the diving and snorkelling industry in its sustainability journey, Reef-World hopes to inspire a shift towards sustainability; making sustainable diving the social norm globally.