Promoting Marine Conservation in the Asia Pacific Region
Three businesses and one individual championing conservation and sustainable business practices in the marine tourism industry were honored at the first ever Blue Green 360 Awards held on April 7, 2017 at this year’s Asia Dive Expo in Suntec City Singapore.
BlueGreen360 Awards celebrates businesses and individuals in the marine tourism industry pioneers that are leading the way, dedicated to inspiring and championing sustainable solutions in their day-to-day operations and sharing their invaluable knowledge and resources with the wider community. It also aims to highlight the value of healthy marine and coastal ecosystems to the industry. This year’s winners have all exhibited their commitment to environmental programs to protect marine biodiversity and has successfully collaborated with various groups promote on-the ground marine conservation efforts that benefit the environment and the local community.
The Winners Are:
Dive Operator of the Year: Scuba Junkie (Malaysia)
Scuba Junkie, based in Mabul, Malaysia, runs environmental programs which includes a sea turtle hatchery program that it implements together with local government authorities, weekly beach clean ups with guests and local communities, a marine biodiversity research program with universities, and an environmental education program for school children in collaboration with local non-government organizations and community groups to raise awareness in marine conservation and marine mammal protection. In its operations, Scuba Junkie utilizes rainwater catchers to supply its dive resort and use solar panels to provide a portion of its power supply. It employs a state-of -the -art sewage system that provide freshwater for the resort’s garden, segregates waste, provides water refilling stations for guests, and uses biodegradable cleaning products. It strictly follows marine animal interaction code of conduct and responsible dive practices and 20 of its staff are trained how to conduct reef health monitoring.
Hotel/Resort of the Year: Six Senses Laamu (Maldives)
Six Senses Laamu, based in Laamu, Maldives, promotes sustainable seafood practices by enforcing a strict “no-take” stance on the purchase of endangered or vulnerable fish species from local fishermen. It provides free marine education to the local youth, including 13 schools in Laamu using innovative materials, interactive videos and fun activities. The resort staff meets bi-monthly with local community leaders to local environmental issues and is establishing a reusable bag initiative, teaching local women to make bags from old clothes, to reduce the need for single use plastic bags. In cooperation with the local authorities, it helped develop a dolphin watching code of conduct and organized the first sea turtle festival gathering more than 600 people to raise awareness on marine sea turtle protection. In its operations, Six Senses Laamu ulitizes an onsite desalination plant and glass bottling system eliminating the need for single-use plastic water bottles. Its onsite wastewater treatment facility enables it recycle grey water for gardening. It has a recycling center where guests can see how glass is recycled into pots, vegetable waste becomes compost or wood is made into charcoal. Guests are actively encouraged to participate in beach and reef cleans, tree planting sessions, local community visits and turtle and manta naming. It supports marine
Green Fins Award: AB Wonderdive (Philippines)
AB Wonderdive, based in the diving hub of Puerto Galera, Philippines, have worked tirelessly to strengthen daily management to ensure the Green Fins Code of Conduct is incorporated into every aspect of the daily running of their dive operation. It has committed to improving the general environmental awareness of its staff to help them to manage a more environmentally friendly operation, but also because they believe that the messages the staff learn at work will be taken home into their local communities to have a more far reaching impact. The dive shop operations have been assessed each year for the past 6 years by Green Fins and have shown an incredible improvement in their score – which represents the environmental risk being posed by the diving activities. The dive shop owners tackled each challenge we set with a solution driven mindset, so they could consider how different management practices could be mainstreamed within their business to effectively overcome environmental risks on a daily basis. They believe that the value of the product they offer to their diving guests has been enhanced because of these greener practices.
Personality of the Year: Dennis Bait-it (Philippines)
Dennis Bryan Bait-it is the manager of one of only two Filipino-owned dive shops on Malapascua Island, Philippines, an area known for diving with thresher sharks. He set up Project Sharklink, a community-based organization of divers, conservationists and educators determined to teach locals about the benefits of dive tourism when it coexists with a well maintained ecosystem. He has developed projects such as Migo sa Iho (Friends of Sharks) an initiative that consists of local volunteer fishermen who, since 2014, have been deputed by the Philippine Government to patrol and protect Monad Shoal, where thresher sharks congregate, and its surrounding waters by reporting any illegal activity and apprehending illegal fishers. The project also develops educational campaigns to reach the local fishermen, and in general positively influence the local community to understand their direct relationship with the marine environment, especially with the sharks. They winners were selected from more than a dozen nominees and judged by marine conservation technical experts from the Coral Triangle Center (CTC), United Nations Environmental Programme and Reef-World Foundation, in collaboration with the organizers of the Asia Dive Expo.
“The Blue Green 360 Awards can help motivate the dive industry to embrace environmentally sustainable practices in their business so it will become the norm and not an exception. The industry can lead by example and by recognizing business and individuals for their efforts it will also have a positive impact for them. In this way, we create a win-win situation for people, planet and profit,” said Rili Djohani, Executive Director of the Coral Triangle Center.
The business nominees were reviewed on how they maximize benefits and add value to marine biodiversity and coastal environment, adopt innovative means to minimize negative impact to marine and coastal environments, actively engage communities in sustainable marine tourism, and adopt sustainable environmental practices in its operations.
“It is critical that the marine tourism industry integrates environmentally sustainable practices as all what they do have a direct impact on the oceans, coastal and marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, and iconic species such as mantas, rays, turtles, reef fish and other animals. Healthy oceans are pivotal for the marine tourism industry to strive and provide food security and jobs to millions of people,” Djohani said.
The individual winner was reviewed based on pioneering efforts in promoting sustainable marine tourism in the private sector and mobilization of various stakeholders in promoting sustainable business practices.
On the other hand, Green Fins Award honours the top Green Fins member who has most effectively aligned their entire business strategy towards the protection of coral reefs. Hundreds of environmentally conscious dive and snorkel centers throughout popular reef tourism destinations in Asia received thorough environmental performance assessments of their everyday business practices for the chance to win this prestigious award!
“As Green Fins grows in membership and reputation, we wanted to recognize the hard work of those dive centers who are really achieving incredible quality of environmental standards with the support of the Green Fins network. In the future we hope that the anticipated competition for this award will help to drive sustainability within the diving industry and help us to achieve our mission, to create an industry where sustainable businesses are always the winners.” Said Chloe Harvey, Coordinator for Green Fins and Programmes Manager, The Reef-World Foundation.
By spotlighting businesses who value sustainability, the Blue Green 360 awards will help to promote those people who are going about business in the right way, bringing them more customers and more success.
About the Organizers
Asia Dive Expo (ADEX) is the longest running and the largest dive expo in Asia celebrating its 22nd year in 2017. A must-attend event for anyone interested or involved in the world of diving, the event has seen a continuous increase in visitors over the past few years, with ADEX 2016 attracting a total of 57,793 visitors over three days! Taking place from April 7 – 9, ADEX 2017 proudly presents world-renowned marine life artists, conservationists and photographers to speak about their passion and work towards marine life. It is organized by Underwater360 (UW360), and is an event being endorsed by major organizations in the industry such as DEMA (USA), the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the Singapore Underwater Federation (SUF). Coral Triangle Center (CTC) is a n Indonesian foundation based in Bali with a regional scope and global impact. CTC provides training on sustainable fisheries and ensures that marine protected areas within the Coral Triangle are managed effectively. CTC supports on-the-ground programs through its learning sites in Nusa Penida and the Banda Islands. CTC leads regional learning networks of women leaders, local government executives and marine protected area practitioners in the six Coral Triangle countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste. CTC is an official partner of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) and is one of the convenors of the CTI-CFF Sustainable Marine Tourism Task Force. CTC works with communities, businesses, governments, and partners to shape lasting solutions to protect coral reef ecosystems and ensure sustainable livelihoods and food security. Please visit: www.coraltrianglecenter.org
Green Fins is paving the way to unite politics and sustainability for marine conservation at diving popular diving destinations around the world. Established through a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme and The Reef-World Foundation in 2004, Green Fins uses a unique and proven three-pronged approach; green certifications of dive centres, strengthening regulations and environmental education for dive staff, divers and government. Almost 500 dive and snorkel operators across seven countries have signed up for free membership, and are using Green Fins as a platform to set examples of sustainable business operations. To find them and to find out how you can dive your way to a more sustainable future, visit www.greenfins.net.