6 Top Tips to Help Dive Operators Reduce Marine Litter

It’s no secret that plastic pollution and marine debris is a huge problem threatening the health of our oceans. That’s why PADI is involved in an industry-wide initiative called Mission 2020, which aims to inspire dive-related businesses and charities to commit to reducing their plastic use.

PADI has pledged to lessen its dependency on packaging to minimise the plastic footprint of hundreds of thousands of divers each year. But what can you do as a dive operator to reduce plastic pollution and marine litter?

Here are a few top tips from the team at The Reef-World Foundation (international co-ordinators of Green Fins) to help you play your part in preserving the oceans you enjoy diving in and for future generations:

1. Organise Underwater Clean-ups
Marine litter is a huge problem but dive operators can lessen its impact not only by refusing single-use items, reducing waste and recycling but also by conducting Dive Against Debris® surveys or even organising underwater clean-up events.

It’s important to avoid damaging the environment in the process of removing any marine debris so make sure your divers maintain good buoyancy, watch their fins, make sure they don’t have any gauges trailing that might touch or damage the reef and don’t touch anything that isn’t trash. Have them work slowly and carefully as a buddy team with one person holding the trash bag and the other wearing gloves and collecting the trash. Divers will need to adjust their buoyancy throughout the dive – remember, as they pick up more rubbish, they are going to get heavier! It’s also a good idea to record data about the trash you collect (Project AWARE’s Dive Against Debris App). You can find a handy guide to organising underwater clean-ups here.

2. Ditch the Masking Tape
Using masking tape to indicate a full tank is a common practice in many dive schools. But have you ever thought about what happens to that tape once it’s been torn off the tank neck? Tape can easily become marine debris by blowing into the ocean. Why not make permanent, reusable caps for your scuba tanks? It’s really simple – all you need is some plastic hosing and good quality rope.

3. Think About Lunches
We all know diving makes you hungry – and there’s nothing like providing some tasty snacks for your guest’s surface interval. But have you ever considered how your quick bite might affect the ocean? Plastic-wrapped sweeties and refreshments served in disposable containers all add to the plastic problem. But it needn’t be that way – clients will appreciate your efforts to preserve the marine environment by serving fresh fruit, coconut pieces and snacks in reusable lunch boxes!

4. Bin It!
As well as reducing your waste, it’s important to make sure any trash that’s created during diving trips is disposed of responsibly. Make sure your dive shops and boats have adequate ashtrays and appropriately sized bins (with lids – the bin is no use if the trash is still swept into the ocean by the wind!) and, wherever possible, separate and recycle your rubbish.

5. Adopt the Green Fins Code of Conduct or Become a Member
Green Fins is a global initiative, coordinated internationally by The Reef-World Foundation in partnership with the UN Environment, which protects coral reefs by ensuring environmentally friendly diving and snorkelling practices.

Dive and snorkel centres operating in active Green Fins locations can apply for membership by signing the membership form and pledging to follow the 15 environmental practices of the Green Fins Code of Conduct. Active members will then be trained, assessed and certified annually and provided with all the resources they need to reduce their environmental impact. If Green Fins is not available in your area, adopt the Code of Conduct voluntarily.

Individual dive guides can also become Green Fins certified by completing the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course – whether or not their dive shop is a member.

Divers themselves can choose to book with Green Fins members as well as donating to support the development and implementation of Green Fins’ work to make coral reefs more resilient when faced with greater threats such as climate change.

Mission 2020 Logo

6. Make a Mission 2020 Pledge
Changing your business practices to reduce plastics is not just good for the ocean; divers care about the ocean and look for businesses who are making strides to protect marine life. So, better environmental practices will lead to increased customer loyalty, higher rates of return customers and great online reviews (which, in turn, attract more business). If you run a diver operator and are inspired to help improve the health of our oceans by reducing your plastic consumption, make a pledge to support Mission 2020.

 

Guest Post Written By: Melissa Hobson, The Reef-World Foundation

PADI and The Reef-World Foundation Embark on a Global Venture to Make Sustainable Diving the Social Norm

PADI® and Reef-World have joined forces to promote sustainable diving practices for the protection of the marine environment. This partnership will raise awareness and deliver tools to implement the Green Fins standard of best practice, helping to ensure the long-term sustainability of coral reefs, recreational scuba diving and local livelihoods.

Green Fins is the only internationally recognized environmental standard for dive and snorkel operators, established through a partnership between UN Environment and The Reef World Foundation. Green Fins uses a unique and proven three-pronged approach; green certifications of dive centers, strengthening regulations and environmental education for dive staff, divers and government.

As the largest diver training organization in the world, PADI has the reach and influence to mobilize divers to be citizen activists. With 6,500 PADI Dive Centers and Resorts, 135,000 PADI Professionals and more than 25 million divers around the world, the PADI network has tremendous potential to make an impact on critical environmental issues.

PADI is committed to supporting social and environmental efforts through its Pillars of ChangeSM, designed to empower divers, and the dive industry, with information to get involved with causes they care about in tangible ways. With PADI’s support and more dive operators worldwide adhering to the best practices outlined by Green Fins, the dive industry can play a significant role in creating a more sustainable future.

“Reef-World is working in partnership with UN Environment on the front lines alongside business, government and the public to be the driving force for making sustainable diving and snorkeling the social norm globally. Our ultimate goal is to reduce local threats to coral reefs, allowing them to be more resilient to global impacts such as climate change. We’re thrilled to work with PADI, alongside other dive industry leaders, who can engage divers and diving businesses worldwide, helping us to scale solutions with the urgency that is required.” – JJ Harvey, Reef-World

Many locations are experiencing increasing numbers of tourists who are attracted by vibrant coral reefs. Ensuring that every diver and dive operator in all corners of the globe are equipped with appropriate training and knowledge will help relieve pressure on the marine environment.

“Unquestionably, there are serious and formidable issues threatening the world’s coral reefs. That said, I’m a firm believer in engagement, problem identification and mitigation. The PADI organization is committed to acting as a force for good. By empowering divers and connecting them to the PADI family and global issues relevant to our industry, we can help people be a powerful catalyst for change.” – Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide.

“Saving coral reefs as a source of livelihoods and as a business asset requires collaboration between industry, civil society and governments. This partnership is set to raise the sustainability bar of the diving industry and will help establish environmentally friendly diving as the global norm” – Jerker Tamelander, Head of Coral Reef Unit, UN Environment

The partnership between PADI and Reef-World aims to reach more divers and businesses with the Green Fins lessons and tools. This will be achieved by:

  • Collaborating to help scale the proven solutions of Green Fins: PADI supports market research efforts for the development of a new Green Fins online support system for broader global implementation and easy adoption.
  • Promoting the Green Fins approach: PADI Dive Centres and Resorts are encouraged to adopt the Green Fins Code of Conduct and, where available, seek Green Fins certified membership.
  • Help deliver on PADI’s Pillars of Change focusing on marine animal protection and sustainable tourism by raising awareness throughout the diving industry about available tools and materials to promote change in business practices and reduce environmental impact.
  • Promoting sustainable dive tourism and coral reefs protection through the development of new online media content that inspires environmentally friendly actions.

Working collaboratively provides greater opportunity for dive operators around the world to be better informed and equipped to apply sustainable dive practices, using Green Fins’ guidelines. Reducing environmental threats and pressure on the fragile marine environment will result in improved coral reef resilience and increased sustainable tourism at dive destinations. The partnership delivers on the goals of Agenda 2030 of the United Nations, specifically SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and 14 (Life below water).

 

About Reef-World:

Reef-World supports governments and communities in sustainable consumption and production of coastal resources and marine life. This is done through the Green Fins initiative, established and implemented in partnership with UN Environment. Green Fins is a free membership program for participating businesses that provide scuba diving or snorkeling activities and pledge to follow a set of best environmental practices. Within the 550+ businesses that have implemented Green Fins across nine countries, consistent reduction in threats to the marine environment has been measured, reflecting continued improvements in environmental practice. Specific areas of change are seen in reduced single-use plastics and chemical cleaning products, more responsible underwater behavior among divers and improved environmental awareness within our target audience. For more information visit reef-world.org and greenfins.net.