Divers are some of the first in society to witness the effects of climate change. With three consecutive, record-breaking ‘hottest ever’ years behind us, the role marine tourism businesses can play in safeguarding the environmental asset at the heart of their business models, the coral reef, is more pivotal than ever. This was emphasized by Asia Dive Expo (ADEX)’s choice of theme for ADEX 2017, “Dedicated to Climate Change”.
Whilst the diving industry does not represent the primary threat to the survival of coral reefs, the impacts of running operations in and around the ocean do pose local stresses on reefs already drowning from the impacts of a rising, warming and more acidified sea. By alleviating these pressures, reefs are able to exhibit their natural resilience and adaptation to change, giving them a higher chance of survival.
In a ground-breaking step forward for the diving industry, ADEX 2017 launched the BlueGreen360 awards in collaboration with the Coral Triangle Centre, Blue Ocean Network and The Reef-World Foundation. The awards celebrate businesses and individuals in the marine tourism industry dedicated to inspiring and championing sustainable solutions in their day-to-day operations, and sharing their invaluable knowledge with the wider community.
Reef-World is proud to announce that of the four categories awarded, all winners were associated with Green Fins members. These outstanding businesses and individuals represent a vast network of divers and marine tourism businesses that are proactively protecting our coral reefs and marine life.
Green Fins Award
The Green Fins Award is presented to the dive centre that has the lowest recorded environmental impact of the 500-strong network of Green Fins member businesses. Long-term members ABWonderdive are a small but strong team based in Puerto Galera, Philippines who have shown huge improvements over the six years of Green Fins membership. From the commitment of manager/owners Alice and Bjorn, to the passion and proactivity of each member of staff, they have successfully tackled each of the threats highlighted by the Green Fins assessment system over the years. They not only have the best assessment score this year, but of that ever seen within the Green Fins system!
Hotel/Resort Operator of the Year
Six Senses Laamu in the Laamu Atoll, Maldives goes well above and beyond …… They promote a strict sustainable seafood policy, flat out refusing to purchase any vulnerable or endangered species. Their efforts go beyond the resort borders by running free marine education programmes across 13 schools on the Atoll and meeting bi-monthly with local leaders to target local issues like plastic use and responsible marine wildlife interactions. Within the resort itself, they run their own desalination plant, have stopped the use of single-use plastic and recycles their wastewater on site. Guests are actively encouraged to take part in beach and reef cleans. Their on-site dive shop, Ocean Dimensions, is a Green Fins member.
Dive Operator of the Year
Scuba Junkie are renown across South East Asia and beyond for their commitment to conservation. Sustainability is at the core of their business from renewable energy, to effective waste management systems and the strict adherence to best environmental practices. Furthermore their own environmental arm (Scuba Junkie S.E.A.S) has been critical to establishing a shark sanctuary, hosts shark and turtle education weeks throughout the year, conducts Reef Check surveys and countless clean ups with customers and community alike. The lessons learned from the original Mabul shop have been replicated in Kotal Kinabalu, Semporna (Malaysia) and in Komodo, Indonesia.
Personality of the Year
Dennis Bryan Bait-it manages a Green Fins member dive shop in Malapascua Island, Philippines – Divelink. Not only has the dive shop made strides under their Green Fins membership, but Dennis is a central character in the preservation of Malapascua’s marine environment. He sits among other committed managers and business owners on the board of the industry-led Malapascua Marine Protection Fund and through his role as Executive Director of SharkLink, has led a community-based group of sea wardens through official deputisation and the turbulent waters of combatting illegal fishing, in particular at the reef that holds the key to Malapascua’s tourism, Monad Shoal – the only known dive site to host Thresher Sharks. This award is testament not only to his tireless efforts, but the community of Malapascua that continues to be miles ahead of other tourism destinations for collaboration on conservation issues. ADEX’s climate change Ambassador and friend to Dennis, AG Saño collected the award on his behalf.
Congratulations to all the winners at ADEX 2017 and Reef-World looks forward to next year, continuing to push the envelope when it comes to sustainable business with Green Fins and our partners.