Dive operators and Dive Resorts can create programs that have two great benefits; these programs appeal to their clients enhancing their experience and empowering them to participate in something more than just a vacation. Simultaneously these programs contribute to the health and sustainability of the marine environment in which these dive businesses operate.
Our 2015 Blue Ocean Summit brought four speakers together that are actively involved in creating and providing educational programs for their dive customers and local communities. Here is a sampling of what these four speakers have to say.
Dive Tourism as a Tool for Conservation – Andy Miners
Misool is a dive-resort situated in the coral triangle at Raja Ampat in Indonesia. Andrew Miners co-founded Misool and is the Managing Director of what is considered to be a model for an eco-resort created to specifically support a marine protected area. Misool’s example sets the bar high for other resorts on the path to operating a sustainable business and for protecting the marine environment that they present to their clients.
“I think scuba divers and snorkelers … going on marine vacations have a very important role to play in changing the way we … interact with the ocean” says Andy, ” they’re the people that then become ocean spokespeople.” Andy points out that “connecting them with the environment in a positive way, showing them the threats and issues and giving them solutions so that they feel empowered to make changes…it’s very, very powerful because that consumer power really can drive massive change in the world.”
Andy describes the presentations that they provide for their guests in the evenings at Misool. It could be a dive manager or a marine biologist giving a talk on marine conservation, plus there are programs for the guests to participate in, while diving, like identifying manta rays. Andy says that the “guests find it really rewarding to learn more about the environment, and the community, and the area that they’re all diving in.”
Dive deeper into the waters at Misool and see Andy’s article “Dive Tourism as a Tool for Conservation” at: Ocean Profiles: Andy Miners Learn how Andy worked with the local community to establish a working relationship that benefits Misool and the local culture.
Dive Resorts as Guardians of the Sea – Cecile and Max Benjamin, Walindi
Kimbe Bay is located on the north coast of New Britian Island in Papua New Guinea and contains some of the world’s most diverse marine eco-systems. For 32 years Cecilie and Max Benjamin have been offering exceptional diving to their guests at their Walindi Plantation Resort, and on the MV Febrina Live-aboard,
In the mid 1990’s the Benjamins set aside land for the Walindi Nature Center, known today as the Mahonia Na Dari (MND) Research and Conservation Center. Here Cecilie and Max have developed the Marine Environment Education Program or MEEP. And so far over 10,000 youth in Elementary, Primary and High School levels from local communities have passed through MEEP and learned the value of marine conservation in their lives and futures.
Find out more about Cecile and Max’s adventures establishing an eco-resort in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Read “Dive Resorts as Guardians of the Sea” at: Ocean Profiles: Cecile and Max Benjamin.
Sustainable Diving on the World’s Busiest Reef – Amy Slate, Amoray
Amy Slate is the owner of the Amoray Dive Resort on Key Largo and Amoray has become a testamonial to Amy’s passion for marine conservation. Amy received the first Blue Star designation given by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for the marine conservation programs that she has provided to over 60,000 divers. Even on the busiest reef in the world Amy’s example demonstrates that dive operators can get onto the path to sustainable practices.
Amy Slate is very active with the Reef Environmental and Educational Foundation or REEF. “Reef really does a great service for us and … around the world, like the Grouper Moon Project that protects the Grouper spawning areas in the Caribbean.” Amy is also on the board of the Coral Restoration Foundation, a great voluntourism program where “we invite divers … to become citizen scientists and help with coral restoration.”
To find out how you can participate in REEF or the voluntourism at the Coral Restoration Program see Amy’s “Sustainable Diving in the World’s Busiest Reef” at: Ocean Profiles: Amy Slate.
The Role of Science in Reef-Backed Resorts – Holly Lohuis
“our ambassador’s program, whether it’s teaching coral reef ecology or kelp forests off of Catalina Island, is really this sustainable message.” Holly Lohuis describes “How can we look at our own society, our humanity, and better improve our simple lesson of sustainability so we live within our means of a natural world.”
As a marine biologist for the past 20 years Holly Lohuis has taught thousands of adults and children about the inextricable connection that we have with the ocean.
When Jean-Michel Cousteau decided that a sustainable travel resort in Fiji would carry the Cousteau family name he know that it would need to meet high expectations. Part of what would be expected from his guests would be a marine conservation program and for that he would need a resident marine scientist. Holly was the perfect choice.
In her interview “the Role of Science in Reef-Backed Resorts”, Holly shares insights into the marine science program she developed for Cousteau’s Fiji Resort, and describes the many benefits it brought to the resort, its guests and to the ocean. See Holly’s full article “the Role of Science in Reef-Backed Resorts” at Ocean Profiles: Holly Lohuis