3 ORGANIZATIONS ONE GOAL – PRESERVE THE WORLD’S OCEANS
“One pioneering dive center, one global certification agency and one sustainable tourism developer join forces to implement standards that protect the marine environment.”
Boulder, CO – Ocean First Divers (OFD), Scuba Schools International (SSI) and Sustainable Travel International (STI) support a commitment to preserve the world’s oceans. One pioneering dive center and two global organizations join forces to design and implement a new eco-certification standard specific to the diving industry, promoting businesses that protect the marine environment.
Graham Casden, founder of Ocean First Divers (OFD), has been working in earnest for the last five years to shift the paradigm in the dive industry and establish a new precedent for accountability and preservation. OFD has long been an advocate for ocean ecosystems by stressing marine science education, ocean conservation and sustainable tourism. In just a few short years, Ocean First Divers has emerged at the forefront of the environmental movement within the dive industry and is a pioneer of “innovative environmental programs.” Among OFD’s most noteworthy developments are a wetsuit reclamation program and carbon calculator for liveaboards, which for the first time assesses the footprint of these highly desired dive vacations. Additionally, Ocean First Divers has invested over $200,000 in renewable energy retrofits that include solar PV and thermal, high-efficiency boilers, variable speed pool pumps and a heat exchanger. Through these efforts and more, Mr. Casden is helping pave the way for a sustainable industry for years to come.
Because of his years of experience as an environmental advocate, Mr. Casden knew he would need the support of reputable global organizations to bring both the mechanisms and industry credibility to the standard. After years of research and program development, Mr. Casden reached a partnership with Scuba Schools International (SSI) and Sustainable Travel International (STI) to provide the support systems, expertise and recognition needed to create a certification standard for the dive industry. SSI is a world leader in dive education, and coupled with STI’s highly acclaimed eco-certification programs that are aligned with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria (GSTC), ensures the new standard has the merit and credibility to usher in a new generation of environmentally conscious dive operators.
“As my passion grew for scuba diving and exploring the magic of our ocean, I quickly realized that the dive industry needed to thoroughly reevaluate the way it approached transforming customers into impassioned stewards for the very resource that we, as an industry, depend on for our livelihood. There has been a disregard for this fragile ocean ecosystem and developing personal accountability for it. Now more than ever before, we must shift the paradigm and create a sustainable model that will ensure both the ocean’s and industry’s longevity,” stated Graham Casden, Owner of Ocean First Divers.
Scuba Schools International (SSI)
Scuba Schools International (SSI), the premier education and business support company, is a global leader in dive education, retail support and industry sustainability. Having seen Ocean First Divers’ innovative practices under the guidance of Graham Casden, SSI saw a methodology that could help the industry in an exciting and innovative way.
When Doug McNeese, President and CEO, first spoke to Mr. Casden about his practices and methodologies incorporated at Ocean First Divers, he was very impressed with the effectiveness, simplicity of implementation, energy savings and tangible environmental benefits. SSI has always pushed for a standardization of good practices within the industry and they are thrilled to work with Ocean First Divers and Sustainable Travel International to bring this standard to fruition and allow all dive centers and resorts worldwide to get involved.
Doug McNeese, SSI President and CEO stated, “In the words of Jean Michel Cousteau, ‘People protect what they love!’ Growing up in the diving industry, I have always loved the ocean! The reefs and their inhabitants are speaking to us and we must listen. It’s our responsibility to protect the ocean ecosystems. Everyone who makes their living from the ocean is a custodian and we should take that responsibility very seriously. I have twin 9 year-old granddaughters and they love the water. I can’t wait for them to become divers and take my place in ‘Protecting what I love!’ OFD, SSI and STI are simply inviting all stakeholders to be part of a very important movement!”
Sustainable Travel International
Sustainable Travel International has been at the forefront of sustainability standards development in the travel and tourism industries since 2002. STI was a founding member of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas, a member of the United Nation Foundation’s (UNF) Sustainable Tourism Steering Committee (STSC), and a key contributor to the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria.
“All STI standards and eco-certification programs are fully aligned with the Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria and address environmental management, social responsibility and economic development of the business and the communities it serves,” explains Brian T. Mullis, President of STI. “Our regimented standards and associated curriculum, which serve as a tool for defining and implementing sustainable business practices, are becoming the ‘Gold Standard’ in sustainable tourism certification.”
About Ocean First Divers:
Ocean First Divers was founded in 2005 to be an advocate for ocean ecosystems in the dive industry by stressing marine science education, ocean conservation and sustainable tourism.
For decades our oceans have been ravaged by pollution, coastal development, over-fishing and global warming. It is impossible to overstate the importance of the health of the ocean and its interconnectedness to all life on the planet. Coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine species, but bleaching has degraded 25% of all reefs worldwide and another 60% are deemed highly vulnerable. Of the entire scuba diving industry, less than five percent of all dive shops are positioned as eco-friendly operations.
Ocean First Divers works closely with environmentalists, non-profit organizations and local communities to help educate and empower a generation that must recognize the importance of maintaining our oceans.
About Scuba Schools International (SSI)
Scuba Schools International grew out of the passion of a few avid divers who were intent on making it possible for anyone to learn how to scuba dive.
For more than 40 years, SSI has provided training, scuba diving certification, and educational resources for divers, instructors and resorts around the world. Started in 1970, SSI has expanded to more than 110 countries with over 2,800 international locations and 31 Regional Centers and materials in 27 languages.
About Sustainable Travel International
Sustainable Travel International (www.sustainabletravel.com) is a global leader in sustainable tourism development. The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization’s mission is to promote sustainable development through responsible travel by providing programs that help travelers, businesses and destinations protect the environment, preserve cultural heritage and promote economic development.