The Reef-World Foundation, Okinawa’s Onna Village Diving Association, and Oceana have jointly announced that Japan is to become the 14th country to implement the Foundation’s UN Environment Programme Green Fins initiative.
Onna Village in Okinawa is the first Japanese tourist destination to adopt Green Fins environmental standards and will run a pilot programme as part of Japan’s Sustainable Development Goals project, which aims to inform local industry as to how sustainable tourism can play a role in reef conservation.
If the project is successful in proving the value of sustainable tourism, the model has the potential to be expanded on a national level into other marine tourism and biodiversity hotspots across Japan.
Japan’s national Green Fins team comprised of four fully certified Green Fins Assessors and two Green Fins Coordinators were appointed following a week of training by Reef-World between 23 and 28 May 2022. The team will be responsible for recruiting, assessing and certifying dive and snorkel operators to become Green Fins members in the country. Training covers marine ecology and threats to the environment posted by poor marine tourism practices and provides simple, local solutions to those threats.
‘We are really excited to finally introduce Green Fins in Japan,’ said James Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation. ‘We have been planning this for almost three years, but the travel restrictions related to the pandemic hindered progress. The diving industry in Okinawa and the marine life upon which it has been built is so unique, it must be preserved for generations to come. The Okinawa diving community is very passionate about protecting their marine environment, and Green Fins has given them an opportunity to collectively work to reduce their environmental impact and pursue exemplary environmental standards.’
‘Green Fins will help to unify all the conservation efforts in Okinawa by applying the guidelines in many areas and raising tourists’ awareness,’ added Yuta Kawamoto, CEO of Oceana. ‘We hope this will increase the sustainable value in the diving industry and in turn increase the diving standards in the country.‘
To date, four dive operators in Onna Village have joined the global network of 600+ trained and assessed Green Fins members. These are: Benthos Divers, Okinawa Diving Center, Arch Angel and Pink Marlin Club. There has also been significant interest from other operators, even those that are not located in Onna Village, for Green Fins training and assessment.
Suika Tsumita from Oceana said: ‘Green Fins serve as an important tool for local diving communities to move towards a more sustainable use of their dive sites; so that they can maintain their scenic beauty and biological richness to provide livelihoods for many generations to come.’
For more information, please visit www.reef-world.org or www.greenfins.net/countries/japan. Dive and snorkel operators interested in signing up for Green Fins can find the membership application form at: www.greenfins.net/how-to-join.
Dive and snorkel operators in Japan interested in signing up to be Green Fins members can contact the Green Fins Japan team at email@example.com.