Bangkok, 13 March 2007 - Tourists, diving and snorkeling enthusiasts in 10 Asian countries will get a chance to pen their thoughts on the preservation and conservation of coral reefs in the Green Fins Slogan Contest which begins today and runs till midnight 30 April 2007. The competition, organized by the East Asian Seas Regional Coordinating Unit ((EAS/RCU), the Secretariat of the Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) seeks to draw attention of tourists, tour and dive operators and the public to the critical conditions of coral reefs in the region and the need for practices that do not worsen the health of an already threatened resource.
More than a third of the world's coral reefs are found in the East Asian Seas that traverses Australia, Cambodia, the People's Republic of China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. The region also has the highest coral reef biodiversity in the world. However, pollution, tourist activities, and destructive fishing have taken their toll on the reefs which are now in critical and threatened condition. Around 38% of coral reefs in Southeast Asia and over 14% in Northeast Asia have already been destroyed.
"Along with their aesthetic qualities, these coral reefs constitute an important economic resource for the communities that depend on them for their livelihoods as well as the fishing and tourism industry. Some studies indicate that in the Southeast Asia subregion, coral reefs can contribute almost $2.2 billion to fisheries and US$4.8 million to tourism," said Dr. Srisuda Jayarabhand, Coordinator of the EAS/RCU. "As tourism grows in this region, a trend that we are increasingly seeing, these reefs will come under increasing threats and pressures. This contest we hope will draw attention to the importance of this resource and hopefully generate action in helping us preserve them." Many of the 1.3 billion people living within a hundred kilometers of coastal areas of the East Asian Seas region are dependent on reefs resources for their day-to-day survival.
The Green Fins Slogan Contest will culminate in an award ceremony on 30 May, 2007 that will be held in Phuket, Thailand.
The Green Fins programme was initiated by the EAS/RCU in 2004 to encourage dive and resort operators, and inadvertently clients who use their services, to adopt environmentally-friendly practices when diving or snorkeling around coral reefs. The programme began in Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines, three of the most popular diving destination countries in the region. Sixty five dive operators and 200 divers are members of this programme in Thailand. Green Fins members in Thailand have also been active in monitoring, cleanup events and awareness activities.
"There are many licensed dive operators in the region. There is potential to reach out to them and expand this programme, which provides an avenue through which divers and dive operators can participate in the conservation, monitoring, and management of coral reefs by adopting environmentally-friendly diving practices, which in turn will help protect these coral reefs," said Mr. Niphon Phongsuwan, Senior Coral Reef Biologist at the Phuket Marine Biological Center.
The programme awards certificates to dive operators who carry out their operations using environmentally-friendly guidelines. People who dive are encouraged to use tour operators and resorts displaying the Green Fins logo and certificate. The Green Fins programme also contributes to biophysical and socio-economic monitoring by providing data illustrating coral reef health, level of awareness of divers, and information on dive tour operators in the region.
For more information, please visit www.cobsea.org.
(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)