Egypt adopts environmental standards to protect coral reefs

Photo Credit: 
Fabrice Dudenhofer

This move forms part of an ambitious plan from the Chamber of Diving & Watersports (CDWS) to improve sustainability practices within the marine tourism sector around the country. The Green Fins initiative will be implemented nationally in the South Sinai Governorate from September and the Red Sea Governorate from March 2020.

Egypt is a popular holiday destination with 11.3 million tourists visiting in 2018 and 8.3 million in 2017. There are approximately 500 businesses providing diving and snorkelling activities in the Red Sea and an estimated three million divers and snorkelers visiting the region each year.

"We're proud to be helping protect Red Sea coral reefs by bringing Green Fins to Egypt; the first country in the Middle East and the 11th country worldwide to adopt the initiative," said Chloe Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation. "As one of the original global diving destinations, the diving community in Egypt has shaped the way we dive and travel today... Through Green Fins, dive and snorkel operators in the region can improve their environmental best practices and reduce their negative impact on coral reefs; helping to conserve these vital ecosystems for many generations to come. The programme is initially launching in South Sinai Governorate with the Red Sea Governorate to follow in March 2020 so we urge dive operators in both regions to get in touch if they are interested in proving they follow environmental best practice by achieving a Green Fins certification."

Human impact on the Red Sea's vulnerable reef systems is becoming an increasingly significant issue. While overfishing, plastic debris and climate change are already having an impact, the Green Fins initiative is hoping to minimise damage from diving activities. It provides environmental consultation and support, based on robust individual assessments to operators.

A UN Environment initiative, Green Fins has been internationally coordinated by The Reef-World Foundation. Green Fins provides the only internationally recognised environmental standards for the diving and snorkelling industry and has a robust assessment system to measure compliance.

"Fortunately, the Red Sea is blessed to have a pristine underwater world with crystal clear visibility, warm waters and a thriving aquatic ecosystem. From large, multi-coloured coral reef systems home to several fish species to the presence of the big underwater creatures, we are lucky to be the custodians of a naturally rich and beautiful environment," said Hesham Gabr, Chair of the Chamber of Diving & Watersports. "Since the start of the 2019 summer alone, we have already had multiple sightings of whale sharks, dolphins, manta rays, eagle rays, hammerheads, oceanic reef sharks and much, much more! It is so important that we protect and preserve the Red Sea's exquisite marine life for future generations. As such, we are excited to promote environmental best practice to our members and help them reduce negative impacts on life under the sea, through the implementation of the Green Fins initiative."

Reef-World's goal is to significantly reduce negative environmental impacts on coral reefs in the Egypt by reaching 30 marine tourism operators, training 150 dive guides and raising awareness of sustainability best practice among 30,000 tourists during Green Fins' first year of implementation.

The launch of Green Fins Egypt was made possible thanks to financing support from the United Nations Development Programme through its project "Mainstreaming the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity into the tourism development and operations in threatened ecosystems in Egypt."

Source: Oceanographic website