20 October 2011 by Julienne du Toit

Two Oceans Aquarium goes deep green and platinum

I was at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town a few months ago and made a point of visiting the Two Oceans Aquarium again.

I was struck, once again, by their commitment to the environment.  Their ocean and fish displays are world-class, but what really left a sweet taste in my mouth this time was the fact that they started a campaign called Rethink the Bag. You won’t find a plastic bag in their shops, and staff and volunteers at the Aquarium were recently banned from bringing plastic bags onto the premises.

Also, their displays don’t just create an awareness of ocean issues, but also of the linking ecosystems of rivers and wetlands, and their vulnerable inhabitants. (See a previous blog, The Thin Green Line.)

Another thing. Shoreline Cafe, their onsite restaurant, recently became the first restaurant in Africa to be awarded a Chain-of-Custody certification from the independent Marine Stewardship Council. This gives customers the assurance that their piece of fish can be traced back through the supply chain to the sustainable fishery company that caught it.

Two Oceans Aquarium was also selected to be a renewable energy demonstration project (by an NGO called Project 90 x 2030). Because of this, solar panels and wind turbines were installed, and energy saving initiatives introduced, saving them more than R200 000 in electricity costs.

Solar panels also power the Aquarium’s outreach van, which takes live marine animals to schools that cannot afford to travel to the V&A Waterfront.

The cherry on top has been the fact that the Aquarium has just been awarded Platinum Status by the Heritage Environmental Management Company, which partners the internationally-recognised Green Globe certification.

They joined the Heritage Zoos and Aquaria Rating Programme in 2007, and went steadily through the ranks, starting at Silver Status (60% benchmark score), moving to Gold Status in 2010 (85%) and now Platinum (90%).

Neal Dickinson from Heritage had this to say: “The Two Oceans Aquarium has throughout the years established itself as a leader in environmental management and animal husbandry. A distinct eco-culture has developed within the business, and this culture is mirrored by all staff members (regardless of position), onsite tenants, contractors and members of the general public.”

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