So, time is up. It’s all gone pretty fast really, except for the days that I felt pretty ill! I had meant to do at least another blog post but I guess that just shows how busy I have been.
All in all my time in the Philippines has been amazing, and I have met some great people. We have worked pretty well as a team I think. It’s always good when there are no major fallouts when you have to see each other pretty much all day every day!
I think we have made a really big impact in El Nido. The response from the dive centres and snorkel tour operators/guides/boat crew has been really really positive, which made out jobs a bit easier! Following feedback sessions after assessments they were all eager to improve with some making changes instantly, which is always great to see.
So I mentioned feedback sessions, and assessments. This relates to the Green Fins project. Where, once dive centres sign up, we run down with our projector and give a training presentation to all of the staff. This is to educate them about the marine environment to help them reduce their impacts. We then go out diving with them and assess them against the Green Fins code of conduct. Finally we have a feedback session with the manager and give them some nice easy ways on how they can reduce any impacts they are having.
I mentioned in my last blog post about how we were also tasked with developing a snorkel industry management strategy. Following meetings with a few of the snorkel tour operators, and explaining Green Fins, they were more than happy to help. So I jumped on their boats and got to go around each of the tours, except D as I managed to take a chunk out of my toe on a step. On each tour, while admiring the scenery, I then collected the environmental data at each of the sites using my quadrat, often attracting lots of questions from guests. Myself and Jess then used this information, along with information we got from stakeholders in the industry from the workshop session in Matt’s training days (Which I will let him tell you about as I have already gone on a bit), to develop recommendations to manage the industry. We then ran these past the El Nido Foundation, the Tourism Officer, Sir Arvin, and the Coastal Resource Management Officer, Sir Edward to get their thoughts and make sure they would be feasible. Sadly I am leaving before the final document is finished but I hope that it really can make a difference and help reduce the impacts of the snorkel industry, especially as tourist numbers are likely to increase.
It hasn’t been all work out here though; we have had a lot of fun. We did manage to sneak some fun dives in, had a great day with just us lot on the boat, and saw some awesome nudibranchs and the biggest eagle ray I’ve ever seen, sorry Jess!
So sorry for the essay, guess I should have done a few more blogs as I’m sure I have missed a lot out here! Just want to say a massive thanks to all the people at the El Nido Foundation, who made our jobs so much easier by being so organized and on the ball! Also a big thanks to the rest of the Green Fins team out here Jess, Matt, and Sam. It’s all been great, and we will definatly have to have a karaoke session in the UK since we missed out in El Nido! A final thank you to Chloe and JJ, whom throughout the whole time out here have just generally been great on all accounts!
It is sad to be leaving El Nido, but I’m lucky enough to have another position lined up. So, now, off to the Seychelles!!
I’m Joe Turner
And you stay classy El Nido