How to run an eco friendly diving resort

A concise guide to how to up your game as a Green Fins eco-friendly hotel manager


In mid-May this year, this planet reached a disturbing record — the highest levels of carbon dioxide ever recorded starting from times before human beings appeared on the planet. Everything is affected from plankton in the deepest seas to coral reefs off coasts to animals, birds and fish as far apart as the Amazon basin and the Arctic Circle. 


The human race is one step closer to a difficult ending. 


It is easy to forget this as you look out of your hotel and see azure seas, stunning blue skies and breathe in crisp, clean air. The manager is looking cheerful in his Panama hat, busily checking his 1Day property management system for new guests. Everything feels terribly normal. Except that it isn’t. And the excited tourists arriving soon from the airport will be just as blissfully unaware of the little things they could do to nudge the planet in a better, more sustainable, greener direction.


This article is about how you, a responsible manager, can up your game and become an eco-friendly manager running an exemplary green dive resort hotel, making it easy for your staff and your guests to be more ‘green’ even as they enjoy the best of all possible holidays. 


1 Join the Green Fins movement

Green Fins, an initiative of the United Nations Environment (UNEP), was developed as a way to address the gap in knowledge and awareness about the growing threats to the marine environment. It has been on the frontline of addressing threats to marine life from the scuba diving and snorkelling industry since 2004. Their dynamic approach has led to the world’s only assessed environmental standards for the scuba and snorkelling businesses. 


Green Fins member countries today includes Antigua and Barbuda, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives, Palau, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


Dive and snorkel centres operating in active Green Fins countries can become members by signing the membership form and pledging to follow the 15 environmental practices of the Green Fins Code of Conduct. Active Green Fins members are then trained, assessed and certified annually by qualified Green Fins Assessors.


2 Follow the Green Fins Code of Conduct

This includes 15 clear, practical steps that you can implement within your resort —


1 Adopt the Green Fins mission statement 


2 Display the adopted GReen Fins Agreement prominently for guests and visitors to see


3 Adhere to Green Fins Diving and Snorkelling guidelines and act as a responsible role model for guests


4 Participate in regular underwater cleanups at dive operator selected sites


5 Participate in the development and implementation of a mooring buoy program and actively use moorings, drift or hand place anchors for boats 


6 Prohibit the sales of corals and other marine life at the dive operation 


7 Participate in regular coral reef monitoring and report coral reef monitoring data to a regional coral reef database 


8 Provide adequate garbage facilities on board facility’s vessel and deal with responsibly 


9 Operate under a ‘minimum discharge’ policy 


10 Abide by all local, regional, national and international environmental laws, regulations and customs 


11 Provide guests with an explanation of Green Fins’ Friendly Diving and Snorkelling Guidelines in pre dive briefings 


12 Provide training, briefing or literature for employees and guests regarding good environmental practices for snorkeling, diving, boating, marine wildlife interaction and other marine recreational activities


13 Provide staff and guests with public awareness and environmental materials (ID books, pamphlets etc) 


14 Provide guests with information on local Marine Protected Areas, environmental rules and regulations 


15 Promote a strict ‘No Touch’ policy for all reef diving and snorkelling.


3 Build a reputation for ‘green’ diving

This is easy to do. Green Fins provides both guidelines as well as hands on training to its members. In a matter of weeks, this is what your dive operations will look like —


All your boats will carry a Green Fins certificate and posters in the centre and on boat 


You will have an on-board Green Fins Champion, selected and trained by you


All your dive staff will be trained annually on the Environmentally Friendly Diving  and Snorkeling Guidelines


You’d be following minimum discharge and responsible garbage policies through safe collection and disposal of hazardous waste by using eco-friendly cleaning products, recycling, avoiding littering and definitely not feeding any  fish.


You’d stand against fishing or sale and display of corals and marine life.


You’d promote good buoyancy, species ID and marine monitoring courses such as Reef Watch, and teach careful finning and photography skills.


You’d ensure that inexperienced swimmers wear life jackets when snorkeling 


4 Your staff would become famous for being green

Your staff, now highly trained and outstanding role models, would be trusted to safeguard the marine world they lead your customers into. 


They’d be excellent role models and follow the Environmentally Friendly Diving and Snorkeling Guidelines.


They’d always provide briefings and enforce a strict “no touch” environmental policy. 


They’d always use mooring buoys and install and maintain where possible.


Know and tell guests about environmental rules and where relevant, marine protected areas.


They’d Participate in regular beach and underwater cleanups.


They’d participate in reef and marine life monitoring and offer ID books and posters of marine life.


They’d prohibit the collection, sale and display of marine life and not support shark fin trade. 


Most important, we are heading into a future where the tourism industry will rely on green dive operators to preserve and conserve the very marine life that tourists come to see. Becoming an eco-friendly dive resort manager and running a green set-up with a small carbon footprint is not going to be an option any more. 


All you’re doing by joining Green Fins is jumping the queue and showing the rest the road to green diving.