Reducing recreational damage
Improving Business Practices: CORAL’s Environmental Walk-Through Program provides assessments that advise marine recreation providers on how they can improve their environmental practices and reduce impacts on coral reef ecosystems. Tourism businesses in Mexico have dramatically improved their practices by following recommendations made during these assessments.
Mesoamerican Reef Voluntary Standards for Marine Recreation: This CORAL-led effort provides detailed requirements for environmentally friendly and safety-conscious marine tourism businesses in the areas of diving, snorkeling, and boating. Several private companies in Mexico have adopted the standards into their mission statements.
Educating tour operators: The CORAL Reef Leadership Network is now the official training program for tour guides who operate in Cozumel Reefs National Parks. Tour guides attend Sustainable Marine Recreation workshops led by CORAL Reef Leaders, where they learn about environmental best practices and how to deliver effective environmental briefings to their clients. More than 450 guides have been trained, a historic number that will have significant positive impacts on the reefs.
Supporting local conservation
Microgrants for Local Conservation Initiatives: CORAL has awarded several microgrants to conservation projects in Cozumel. In addition to acheiving their stated goals, these projects have led to a great collaborative effort between private industry and the Cozumel Reefs National Park. Projects include:
- Developing a short video to emphasize and promote environmental awareness specifically focused on coral reefs. This PSA is still being used by the local television station in Cozumel, and has greatly increased awareness about the need to protect the reefs.
- Covering taxis with messages about protecting the reefs. This project targeted both tourists and locals on the island.
- Printing the Voluntary Standards for Marine Recreation in a short, graphic form that can be easily used by dive masters, sailors, shops, and other marine recreation providers. This project aims to reduce reef damage from divers and snorkelers.
Reducing harmful impacts
Support for Marine Parks: CORAL helped to create the Cozumel Advisory Committee, which has agreed to adopt the Voluntary Standards for Marine Recreation as part of the regulations in the park.
Raising Awareness: The CORAL Reef Leadership Network has expanded its trainings in environmental best practices to reach beyond the marine recreation industry. Targeting hotels, restaurants, community groups, grocery stores, tourism bureaus, chambers of commerce, and more, these trainings make a direct connection between healthy reefs and a robust tourism economy in order to inspire all members of a coral reef community to support reef protection.
Developing Sustainable Tourism: CORAL’s Voluntary Standards for Marine Recreation and Enviornmental Walk-Through Program help local tourism industry operators create eco-friendly destinations and practices.