el_nido_palawan_marine protected area, marine reserve, marine conservation philippines(Blue Ocean Network.com – September 17, 2014) — El Nido on the island of Palawan, is located 420 kilometers southwest of Manila in the Philippines and is famous for its white-sand beaches and as the gateway to Bacuit Bay. El Nido and the 45 islands in the Bacuit Archipelago make up the largest marine sanctuary in the country, encompassing an area of 900 square kilometers and containing one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the region.

Spectacular karst, limestone cliffs tower over the Bay islands and support a unique flora and fauna, while beneath the bay’s waters are to be found over 400 coral species that support a rainbow of sea life.

 

A Scuba and Snorkeling Paradise

_palawan_el_nido marine protected area, marine sanctuary, marine conservation, sustainable tourismThis scuba diving and snorkeling paradise has not gone unnoticed and the number of tourists has tripled in the last ten years. In 2013 alone over 60,000 tourists visited the beaches and islands of El Nido.

With this explosion of dive tourism in the marine sanctuary it was Green Fins that arrived to provide the only internationally recognized set of environmental standards to the area’s tourism and dive businesses. Green Fins also provides guidance, training and support to business owners and governmental authorities to promote sustainable tourism. Green Fins coordinates with The Reef-World Foundation and is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),

 

“Tourism in El Nido remains both an opportunity and a threat.”

While tourism is a mainstay of the local economy, it is also an industry that is particularly sensitive to reef conditions. If the coral reefs are damaged, and they can no longer support the sea life that depends on them, they also lose their attraction as tourist destinations.

“intensive diving and snorkeling tourism can be a significant driver of reef degradation, and may leave reefs more vulnerable to other stress including climate change” according to the Head of UNEP’s Coral Reef Unit, Jerker Tamelander.

 

Sustainable Tourism and Diving supported by Green Fins

The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network estimates that we have lost nearly 20% of the world’s  coral reefs, and that another 15% are under immediate threat. Nearly 30 million people are totally dependent on coral reefs for their livelihoods while another 500 million depend on coral reefs for food, coastal protection, and income from tourism. However by introducing more sustainable practices into the tourism sector, resources can be better managed, costs lowered, and biodiversity protected

“In the Philippines, around 130 dive centers are registered Green Fins members and since the introduction of Green Fins in El Nido in 2012, almost two thirds of the 16 dive shops and 55 to 60 snorkeling tour offices have participated in the Green Fins program,” Mr. Tamelander said.

There is a lot more you can learn about the sustainable practices promoted by the Reef World Foundation  and the Green Fins Code of conduct, visit http://www.greenfins.net/