Travel: GREEN CHANNEL
Saturday 02 May 1998
Coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems in the world, and also some of the most endangered. The destruction of these biologically rich areas is attributable, in part, to coastal tourism developments. Ecotourists play an important role in the travel industry through the choices they make, as the US-based Ecotourism Society points out. Below are its guidelines on "how to be a marine ecotourist".
l Never surround a single animal or a group of animals; there should always be an area for animals to move away from you
Animals always have the right of way; it is their home
Never touch marine animals
Keep noise levels to a minimum to avoid unnecessary stress
Never harass or chase wildlife for the sake of a better look or an "ultimate" photograph
If you see a marine animal that appears to be in distress or injured, do not attempt to rescue it. Contact the nearest authorities and they will determine the most suitable course of action
Do not litter; if you see any litter pick it up. Many forms of litter have devastating effects on natural ecosystems
Recreational boating etiquette
Make advance navigation plans before departure, and take note of shallow and fragile areas, and the influence of the tide, as low tide can create shallow conditions in otherwise navigable waters
Stay within marked channels, and be knowledgeable of the different navigation markers
Safety first! Carry emergency gear, tell people on shore what you are doing and where you are going, and be aware of upcoming weather patterns
Ideally you should undertake a boating course; this will improve your skills and safety and therefore reduce your impact on the environment
Use mooring buoys where possible, as improper anchorage can damage the environment
Keep a covered rubbish bin on board and ensure that people use it. Dispose of your trash at the marina. Reuse, reduce, recycle
Do not discharge sewage into the water; use the nearest pump-out facility
Never discard fishing lines overboard
Do not drain engine fluids into the water
Do not touch living marine wildlife, such as coral and other animals
Do not collect souvenirs (shells, coral, etc)
Do not stand or rest on coral reefs
Never harass aquatic animals for amusement
Always be aware of your position in the water and that of your dive gear, in relation to marine animals and the coral reef
Remember to dive safely, in terms of both your own health and that of the marine environment
Review and update diving skills such as buoyancy control, finning and positioning
Do not feed marine animals
The Ecotourism Society, PO Box 755, North Bennington, VT 05257, US (tel: 802-447 2121, fax: 802-447-2122,e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web:www.ecotourism.org)
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