Egypt is adopting Green Fins environmental standards to protect its coral reefs. The country has become the first in its region and the 11th worldwide to officially adopt Green Fins.
The initiative will be piloted in South Sinai and expanded to be available to all dive and snorkel operators nationwide by March 2020. Dive operators in South Sinai can now register their interest in becoming a Green Fins member by contacting the Egyptian Chamber of Diving Watersports (CDWS).
An estimated three million divers and snorkellers visit Egypt each year. Around 500 businesses provide diving and snorkelling activities in the Red Sea. The CDWS is rallying all dive centres to join the Green Fins initiative to help improve their sustainability and prove they are following environmental best practice as a way of attracting eco-minded tourists.
Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or plastic debris as well the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures. The Green Fins initiative helps identify and mitigate these risks by providing environmental consultation and support, based on robust individual assessments, to dive and snorkel operators.
Green Fins, in partnership with UN Environment, focuses on driving environmentally friendly SCUBA diving and snorkelling practices across the industry globally. The Chamber of Diving and Watersports (CDWS) is a dedicated body under the umbrella of the Egyptian Tourist Federation committed to all diving and watersport activities which take place throughout Egypt’s coastal waters.
While Green Fins is usually adopted by a government body (which integrates the programme’s activities with their annual plans and absorbs associated costs), in Egypt the industry has collaborated to bring Green Fins to the area through the CDWS. CDWS is a non-profit organisation and Egyptian operators pay an annual CDWS membership fee of 5,500 Egyptian pounds (310 Euros or 340 USD) to cover costs associated with audits. For those who would like to voluntarily participate in Green Fins, an additional fee will be charged to cover the associated costs of the programme.
To date, four Egyptian dive and snorkel operators have already joined the global network of nearly 600 trained and assessed Green Fins members. These are: Reef Oasis Dive Club, Water Land 3 Diving Centre, Diving and Discovery and Camel Dive Club and Resort. There has also been significant interest from other operators who have signed the membership form and are looking forward to their training and assessment. The CDWS aims to certify 30 dive centres in the coming year.
Ahmed el Wassief, Chair of the Egyptian Tourism Federation, said: “Sustainability is a crucial element of the Egypt Tourism Reform Program that Egypt is undertaking to improve the standards and the quality of both the touristic infrastructure and its human element. The effort will surely put Egyptian tourism at the forefront of Eastern Mediterranean destinations.”
Dive and snorkel operators interested in signing up to Green Fins can find the membership application form at: https://www.greenfins.net/how-to-join.
Photo credits: Tim Nicholson, Jill Studholme