Marine conservation charity asks tourists to look for Green Fins when planning their holiday
The Reef-World Foundation and Chamber of Diving & Watersports (CDWS) are pleased to announce Green Fins – a UN Environment Programme initiative which provides the world’s only internationally recognised standards for diving and snorkelling – has now been expanded to be available to all dive and snorkel operators nationwide across Egypt.
Green Fins was piloted in South Sinai Governorate in September 2019 and has now been expanded nationwide, following a week-long training for six new Green Fins Assessors in Red Sea Governorate (23 to 29 February 2020). Through the implementation of the Green Fins initiative nationally, the Egyptian marine tourism industry is playing its part in protecting coral reefs from the negative impacts associated with diving and snorkelling.
Following the recent lifting of UK flight restrictions to Sharm el Sheikh, and the resultant increase in tourism to the already popular country, The Reef-World Foundation is reminding tourists of the importance of protecting the reefs they visit; urging them to follow environmental best practice and book with a Green Fins operator wherever possible. The CDWS is rallying more dive centres to sign up to the Green Fins initiative to help improve their sustainability and prove they are following environmental best practice.
Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as overfishing or plastic debris as well the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures. Green Fins is a UN Environment Programme initiative, internationally coordinated by The Reef-World Foundation, which helps identify and mitigate these risks through environmentally friendly guidelines to promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling tourism industry.
Chloe Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said:
“We’re proud to be helping protect Red Sea coral reefs by expanding Green Fins nationwide across Egypt. Congratulations to the Green Fins Hurghada Assessor team members who are now certified to recruit, train and conduct robust assessments to evaluate the environmental impact of dive and snorkel operators in the country. They will also provide training about the ecology and threats to coral reefs and offer practical, local and low-cost solutions to these threats. Through their one-to-one consultations, the Green Fins national team in Egypt will play a vital role in helping the country’s marine tourism industry improve its sustainability; ultimately, protecting the Red Sea’s precious coral reefs for future generations.”
Hesham Gabr, Chair of the Chamber of Diving & Watersports, said:
“To date, nine Egyptian dive and snorkel operators have already joined the global network of nearly 600 trained and assessed Green Fins members, with significant interest from other operators who are awaiting their training and assessment. In the coming year, we aim to certify 30 marine tourism operators, train 150 dive guides and raise awareness of sustainability best practice among 30,000 tourists. Green Fins is a critical part of our ambitious action plan to strengthen sustainability within the marine tourism sector across Egypt and we are excited to see the continued results.”
Amr El Ezabi, Director of the Egyptian State Tourist Office (UK and Ireland), said:
“This is the kind of partnership I value and search for. Based on respect, exchange of knowledge, building capacity and at the end realise the targets through sharing the culture. It fulfils all the requirements of sustainability. We are building a community together. Marketing the Red Sea on this basis is solid and sustainable. We are very happy about the implementation of Green Fins in Egypt.”
While Green Fins is usually adopted by a government body (which integrates the programme’s activities with their annual plans and absorbs associated costs), in Egypt the industry has collaborated to bring Green Fins to the area through the CDWS. CDWS is a non-profit organisation and Egyptian operators pay an annual CDWS membership fee of 5,500 Egyptian pounds (LE) to cover costs associated with audits. For those who would like to voluntarily participate in Green Fins, an additional fee will be charged to cover the associated costs of the programme. The Ministry of Environment is CDWS’ main counterpart in the implementation of Green Fins Egypt. The country is the first in its region and 11th worldwide to officially adopt Green Fins.
The Green Fins approach includes proven assessment criteria to identify and mitigate high-risk practices both above and below the water. Green Fins members are evaluated annually based on a 15-point code of conduct, which measures the company’s impact on coral reefs: of a possible score of 330, the lower the score, the lower its impact. The assessment then enables Green Fins assessors to offer practical alternatives to the most pressing threats posed by that business. To ensure its members are fully compliant with the Green Fins Code of Conduct, the CDWS will introduce a minimum environmental impact benchmark of for Green Fins certification; a world first for Green Fins.
The launch of Green Fins Egypt was made possible thanks to financing support from the United Nations Development Programme through its project “Mainstreaming the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity into the tourism development and operations in threatened ecosystems in Egypt.”
Egyptian dive and snorkel operators interested in signing up to Green Fins can contact the Green Fins Team at CDWS (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Book now for Underwater Video Workshop at Marsa Shagra this November
Improve your underwater video skills while meeting new dive buddies and enjoying a relaxed week of world class diving at this Underwater Video Workshop in Marsa Shagra Village, Egypt from November 19th – 26th 2022.
After the huge success they had with their first live and on location Underwater Video Workshop in Bonaire earlier this year (see what the participants said about the workshop in Bonaire), Matthias Lebo and Sebastian Kuntz from the Underwater Filmmaking School spontaneously decided to host another Underwater Video Workshop, this time in the beautiful Red Sea.
A maximum of 10 participants will be able to enjoy 7 nights at Marsa Shagra Village near Marsa Alam with 5 days of unlimited house reef diving, some trips to the famous Elphinstone Reef, Marsa Abu Dabab and the Dolphin House, all while working on their underwater videography skills.
The Underwater Video Workshop includes:
- IN WATER COACHING:
Matthias & Sebastian will be actively coaching before, while and after diving with the group, sharing their knowledge, giving tips and helping with any underwater videography related questions that may come up during the workshop.
- EVENING SESSIONS:
The evenings will be used either to learn about specific underwater videography topics or to review your footage taken during the day. Mini-challenges will help put in action what you learn during those evening session.
- EQUIPMENT TESTING:
You will have the possibility to test out different underwater camera gear that they will bring with them and will be available to you on location throughout the workshop.
EUR 1950.- per person (double occupancy – twin or double)
EUR 2600.- per person (single occupancy)
Included in the workshop cost:
- 7 nights accommodation for double occupancy
(Add 650€ for single occupancy)
- full-board including normal soft drinks, water, coffee & tea
- Transfer from/to Marsa Alam Airport
(Add 52€ per person for Hurghada Airport)
- 5 days unlimited house reef diving
- 2 speedboat trips to Elphinstone (single tank)
- 1 trip to Marsa Abu Dabab (two tank)
- Possibility for personal coaching through Matthias & Sebastian during all diving days
- Possibility to try out different underwater camera gear
- Daily presentations/mini-challenges/footage reviews
- Fun filled week with like minded divers
- Exclusive Workshop Welcome Bag (EWWB)
NOT Included in the trip costs:
- All flights
- Any required visas for travel to and within Egypt
- All beverages (besides coffee, tea, water and normal softdrinks)
- Travel and Dive Insurance (strongly recommended)
- Rental Equipment (if needed)
- 32% NITROX (2€/tank)
- 15L tanks (3€/tank)
- Privat 1:1 sessions with Matthias or Sebastian
- Additional dive trips
- Personal expenses
- Gratitudes/tips for the hotel and dive center staff
The workshop is suitable for every experience level, from beginner all the way to experienced underwater videographers.
6 Best places to go diving in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a land of contrasts, rich in ancient history and dazzling cities with dramatic desert scenery throughout. It is one of the least-dived areas of the Red Sea and offers incredible diving among untouched reefs full of life. There are shallow reefs swathed in soft corals, deep walls and challenging wrecks to discover there. Boasting a wealth of reef and pelagic marine life, plus abundant sharks and mantas, Saudi Arabia needs to be on your diving wish list. Read on for our pick of the best places to go diving in Saudi Arabia before the rest of the world discovers this hidden gem.
Diving in Makkah
The Mecca Province, also known as the Makkah Province, is home to Mecca and the main port city of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah. This historically-rich area offers spectacular Red Sea marine life and is home to some of the best diving in all of Saudi Arabia. This is where most of the cities that offer scuba diving in Saudi Arabia are found.
The coastal town of Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s best-known dive destination and offers fantastic wreck diving for all experience levels. As well as hosting famous wrecks, Jeddah has thriving reefs busy with vibrant Red Sea marine life.
There you will find the Ann Ann wreck, the biggest wreck in Jeddah. She sunk in 1977 and is a staggering sight, covered in soft corals. This is a challenging dive, but with the right conditions, you can start at the stern at 32 meters deep and work your way up to 5 meters at the bow.
The Boiler wreck is another one of Jeddah’s top dives, offering deep reef and wreck diving from 45 meters deep up to 15 meters. As well as the wreck itself, there are caves, a tunnel, and a reef wall covered in black, pink and bright red corals. On any given day, you have the chance to see sharks, manta rays, and large pelagic fish at this remarkable dive site.
These are just two of the many highlights of diving in Jeddah. You can go diving from shore at Jeddah’s luxurious resorts or explore further afield by day-boat diving. With a range of dive centers to choose from, Jeddah is an excellent place to get a scuba certification and experience some of the best Red Sea diving there is.
- Farasan Banks, Al Lith
Al Lith, one of the largest seaports in Saudi Arabia, sits just south of Jeddah and is the gateway to one of Saudi Arabia’s best-loved dive spots; the Farasan Banks at Jabal Al-Lith Island.
Jabal Al-Lith Island is stunning; swathed in white-and beaches and surrounded by mangroves and thriving coral reefs full of marine life. This little island is fast-gaining the attention of tourists and is an unmissable dive spot.
At the Farasan Banks, you can enjoy diving in the light-filled shallows or explore the depths, which plummet down to 500 meters. It’s an excellent destination for novice divers and experienced technical divers alike.
The Banks are well-known for their diverse marine life and boast diverse corals, a mixture of Red Sea reef and pelagic fish, plus numerous sharks. White-tip reef sharks, grey reef, silky, and hammerhead sharks can all be found there.
- Five Sisters, Rabigh
Another great city for diving, Rabigh sits between Jeddah and Yanbu and offers excellent coral reef diving. It is most famous for hosting the Five Sisters Reef: a series of five coral atolls just offshore from Rabigh.
The Five Sisters Reef is Rabigh’s most popular dive area and offers outstanding diving. This area is completely untouched, and each atoll has different underwater landscapes, including steep walls, plateaus, columns, and anemone beds. The dive sites are teeming with a wealth of reef life and are covered in corals. Added to that, schools of pelagic fish, hammerheads and mantas are often seen in the blue.
Diving in Madinah
The Madinah Region hosts another of Saudi Arabia’s top dive areas, Yanbu. This ancient port city north of Jeddah dates back to around 500BC and was an important rest stop for traders navigating one of the world’s oldest trade routes, the Incense Route.
Today, Yanbu is a major port and fast-growing tourist destination, surrounded by azure waters, gorgeous beaches, and untouched reefs. With access to areas such as the Seven Sisters Reef, Yanbu truly deserves its nickname ‘the Pearl of the Red Sea’.
- Seven Sisters. Yanbu
Seven Sisters Reef is known for one thing – hammerhead sharks. This reef hosts these unmistakable sharks almost year-round and offers excellent reef diving as well. There are beautiful shallow coral landscapes to explore, plus plunging walls patrolled by schools of barracuda and snapper.
- Abu Galawa, Yanbu
Abu Galawa is part of the Seven Sisters Reef and is an underwater world covered in corals and visited by numerous sharks, including hammerheads. It is one of the most rewarding dives of the Seven Sisters Reef system.
Diving in Tabuk
Tabuk Province is less well-known for diving than other areas of Saudi Arabia, yet it boasts the longest stretch of Red Sea coastline in all of Saudi Arabia. It is home to the Red Sea Project and NEOM, two impressive coastal development projects that will put Tabuk firmly on the map of enviable places to go diving in the Red Sea.
Go diving in Tabuk before the rest of the world discovers this dive area. You will be rewarded with crystal-clear, warm waters and pristine coral reefs few people have ever dived. If you like exploratory diving, Tabuk could be the place for you.
Kathryn Curzon, a conservationist and dive travel writer for SSI (Scuba Schools International), wrote this article.