Marissa Stein, Communications Manager for the Coral Reef Alliance, provided a checklist for divers to make sure that the operators you choose to dive with are really committed to sustainable diving tourism.

A sustainable operator should:

Ensure and educate on sustainable diving practices, such as:

1. Using the buddy system

2. Maintaining proper buoyancy

3. Not touching or standing on reefs

4. Using properly fitted equipment needed

Protect wildlife by:

1. Not touching corals or coral reef animals

2. Not feeding or providing food to attract animals

3. Rotating among dive sites with fragile habitats

Practise sustainable boating behaviours, such as:

1. Using mooring buoys when available

2. Complying with all local, national, and international laws and regulations

3. Refraining from littering or polluting the water

4. Using boat ramps and piers when available

5. Taking proper measures to anchor boats into sand instead of coral reefs when necessary

Limit waste and pollution by:

1. Maintaining a zero-waste policy

2. Properly securing and disposing of trash

3. Maintaining equipment to prevent hazardous waste from entering the marine environment

4. Complying with local, national, and international laws regulating the disposal of sewage

Support and encourage community engagement and ownership by:

1. Complying with any user fee systems that are in place

2. Complying with local regulations and guidelines

3. Educating on the environmental, physical, and biological features of the sites they visit

4. Providing guests with information about local practices and sustainability efforts

5. Employing local staff where possible

6. Enter revenue sharing or shareholder agreements with the local community

Maintain a reef-friendly landscape by:

1. Using design techniques that reduce water runoff

2. Limiting use of pesticides and herbicides

3. Planting native plants that do not require high-levels of irrigation

4. Using recycled water for irrigation

Reduce water usage by:

1. Using water-saving fixtures such as low-flow showerheads and toilets

2. Adjusting irrigation schedules

3. Properly maintaining all HVAC and pool equipment

Purchase sustainable products such as:

1. Paper goods made from recycled materials

2. Environmentally-friendly cleaners

3. Contracting services with green providers

Reduce waste by:

1. Reducing the amount of waste produced

2. Recycling

3. Reusing, repurposing, or donating materials

Educate guests through:

1. Outreach materials

2. Signage

3. Presentations

4. Activities and events

For the rest of this article (Scuba Diver Issue 3/2015, AA No.82) and other stories, check out our past issues here or download digital copy here.

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