The Ocean covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface. Not only is it home to some of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet, but it is essential to humankind! World Oceans Day is celebrated every June 8 to raise global awareness of the challenges facing the international community in its relationship with the oceans.
Cape Verde is a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) with a land area of 4,033 Km2 and about 800,000 Km2 of Economic Exclusive Zone. It is a country with more sea than land, and has always had a close relationship with the ocean.
Like many other SIDS, coastal and maritime tourism is the biggest industry. As ecotourism becomes increasingly popular in Europe (its main source market), nature excursions (marine, coastal and land-based) are growing on the islands.
However, weak regulation and supervision of tourism activities in natural areas, along with poor scientific knowledge of the target species by some guides and tour operators, have generated adverse impacts on marine environments, species, and consequently on the tourist experience.
The Travel Foundation is partnering with environmental conservation NGOs and Government bodies to embed sustainability principles and practice across the excursions sector.
The project is twofold: firstly it will provide tools for service providers who operate maritime and coastal tourism excursions, secondly it will seek to promote a public-civil society partnership to improve the capacity of government agencies and other stakeholders to promote, supervise and monitor sustainable excursions and recreation activities.
We believe tourism sector service providers will pass on sustainable practices to tourists. By supporting them with free tools containing technical information on the environment and biodiversity of Cape Verde, as well as on international good practices for marine and coastal excursions (turtle, whale, shark, and sea bird watching, and dune excursions), we will be contributing to reducing tourism pressures on the oceans and, in the long term, to Sustainable Development Goal 14
However, to ensure good practices continue, local and national authorities need to communicate honestly and create strategies that can balance the demands of the tourism sector and the needs of Cape Verde’s ocean ecosystems. I understand that this project is just a drop in the ocean, but as 13th-century Persian poet Jalaluddin Rumi once said: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”
Photo: Marcos Hernandez/Project Biodiversity