What Is Greenfins?
Green Fins was originally initiated by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) under the Regional Seas programme as part of the effort to increase public awareness and management practices that will benefit the conservation of coral reefs and reduce unsustainable tourism practices. It is overseen by the Coral Reef Unit of UNEP based in Bangkok in collaboration with Reef-World. Green Fins is a comprehensive approach that encourages dive centres and snorkel operators, local communities and governments to work together to reduce their environmental impacts.
The Greenfins Code of Conduct
This consists of 15 guidelines, which can be found in our online conservation page:
This weekend, a number of ecologically responsible dive schools got together with the leading organisers of Greenfins and also the Thai Government’s Department for Marine and Coastal Resources to learn about their ‘Reef Watch’ programme and help introduce this to the kids from Koh Tao’s school. The ‘Reef Watch” programme is a simple and easy to use waterproof book which you can use to record observations of a dive site, such as the condition of the coral, the number and variety of the fish as well as many other factors.
After a few hours in the classroom, we headed out into Mae Haad Bay to conduct some coral monitoring using the new materials provided to us. Now we have practiced these techniques, it is a simple matter to conduct these sort of surveys on a regular basis to get a real time view of what is happening with our coral reefs.
With such a wide ranging topic, it is difficult to know where to begin. As the human race has developed over the last few hundred years we have progressed from a people who live in relative harmony with the environment to a species rapidly and recklessly destroying the environment on which it depend to survive. Felling the rainforests, air pollution depletion of the ozone layer; these are all environmental catastrophes which have been well publicised over the last few decades, but for many people the issues which our oceans are facing are almost completely unknown.
Planet Earth is a misnomer – it should really be named Planet Water since over 70% of the surface is covered in ocean. It is estimated that 99% of the habitable space on this planet is water based, and more importantly our oceans are absolutely vital in maintaining the fragile balance, which separates our world from becoming an inhospitable and desolate wasteland. One major concern for marine scientists is the current trend of increasing temperatures in the oceans. Whilst this may not seem like such a big issue, warmer waters can, and do kill corals which are an important part of the marine eco-system.
Rainforests are often hailed as ‘the lungs of the earth’ producing Oxygen, but coral reefs also produce a large proportion of the air we breathe. Put simply, without our coral reefs Earth and humanity as a whole will be in serious, serious trouble. In our series of conservation blogs over the coming months, we will explore more of the conservation issues facing our delicate aquatic environment, and at the end of each post will be something YOU can do to help.
What Can I Do?
The first step should be knowledge and awareness. By understanding the issues we face, we can work out solutions! Also spreading awareness encourages others to help.