The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinators of Green Fins – with the support of Professional SCUBA Schools International (PSS), has announced the launch of the Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course.
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’ approach to conservation through diver training combines green certifications for dive centres, environmental education for dive staff, divers and government representatives, and the strengthening of regulations designed to protect the marine environment.
The free online course is designed to help dive professionals reduce the negative environmental impacts of scuba diving through their own actions, and those of the divers they are teaching or guiding. The programme is available to all dive professionals, whether or not the dive operator for whom they work is a Green Fins member.
Diving related damage is an issue that is increasingly being raised within the dive community. In conjunction with other factors such as overfishing, plastic pollution, run-off from the land and climate change, poor scuba diving practices act as an additional stressor to sensitive marine ecosystems.
Scuba diving professionals have a significant influence on diver behaviour underwater. The Green Fins course is designed to assist guides to better manage their guests in order to prevent them causing damage to the reef, and help to protect coral and other marine life in the process. The course covers techniques such as how to provide an effective pre-dive environmental briefing and how to stop customers (including underwater photographers) touching coral whilst diving.
The course consists of three modules of easy-to-follow content followed by corresponding tests.
Module 1: an introduction to coral reef biology, the Green Fins approach, why it is imperative we protect reefs, and how guides can use Green Fins resources, such as posters and guidelines, to support their day to day work.
Module 2: management techniques above water, such as how to prepare and plan an environmentally friendly dive and maximising the opportunity of an effective environmental pre-dive briefing to encourage guests to limit their environmental impact.
Module 3: how to confidently lead a dive using positive role model behaviour and making underwater corrections – such as adjusting buoyancy – followed by an explanation and positive reinforcement once the dive is over. Research has shown divers who receive environmental information in pre-dive briefings coupled with interventions underwater cause significantly less damage to coral.
On completion of the course, there is an option to donate £19 ($24) to support Green Fins’ work around the world and receive a personalised electronic certificate. It is hoped that by displaying the certificates, dive centres will attract more eco-conscious customers and build confidence in the dive centre’s standards. Certified guides and dive centres will also benefit from additional promotion through the Green Fins community.
Chloe Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: ‘The Green Fins Dive Guide e-Course enables dive professionals to become more environmentally aware, understand the main environmental threats posed by SCUBA diving and be able to minimise those threats. We hope that the course will help protect coral reefs all over the world, allowing them to be more resilient to wider stressors such as the effects of climate change. What’s more, many divers now expect, and demand, environmentally aware guides, so being a positive role model in this way not only protects the underwater environment, but can also result in better employability and more tips!”