On the 8th June, people all over the world will be coming together to celebrate World Oceans Day. Communities will be organizing everything from children’s art competitions to underwater clean-ups, all to raise awareness about the importance of our oceans. They cover most of the Earth and provide us with 70% of the oxygen we breathe. They are essential to our survival and yet often forgotten as modern-day priorities necessitate cities and offices instead of forests and oceans. For some people, however, the ocean is their office. For these people, every day is World Oceans Day because they can see a direct link between the environment and our survival.
As Filipino dive guides, King and Ole’s livelihoods clearly depend on the oceans. The beautiful coral reefs of their island home, Panglao, support a booming tourism industry that has allowed their community’s employment, education, and general infrastructure to flourish. But being in the water every day has allowed King and Ole to recognize the substantial threat that these tourists also bring with them. If tourism is left unmanaged, it can cause environmental disaster: rapid coastal development can leave inadequate sewage systems flowing directly into the ocean; poorly managed garbage filling up beaches; and divers and snorkelers kicking and destroying corals that take centuries to grow. Unsustainable tourism practices could quickly leave King and Ole without their livelihoods, which is why they make a conscious effort to protect the environment through their influential roles as Green Fins Ambassadors.
When Green Fins was launched in Panglao in 2015, the dive and snorkel centers of Alona Beach were extremely excited to have a clear and proven strategy through which they could reduce threats to their precious coral reefs. Annual Green Fins assessments allow operators to identify effective environmental policies across their businesses and help bolster the training of dive staff. King and Ole were quickly identified as role models for the ocean and became Green Fins Ambassadors in July 2016, along with their fellow environmental champions, Arnel and Rigie. As Green Fins Ambassadors, they are a force for positive change within the industry, helping tourists Dive For Change. They go above and beyond the expected duties of dive guides, and educate their divers about the importance of protecting the environment they have travelled so far to enjoy. They signify hope for booming tourism industries like Panglao, allowing potential environmental threats to become opportunities for raising community awareness of our oceans.
This World Oceans Day, the international coordinators of Green Fins, The Reef-World Foundation, would like to say a huge thank you to all the environmental champions Diving For Change across the global marine tourism industry. Whether you are a boat captain who uses mooring buoys instead of anchors, or a dive guide who briefs underwater photographers to not touch or harass marine life, your actions make a difference every day and protect our oceans from damage. Thank you!