Since my last blog post an incredible three weeks ago, my time has been successfully spent juggling the development of my personal project and my responsibilities as a Green Fins coordinator. This has resulted in a great many commutes to and from Sabang, and has created the opportunity to get to know the jeepney staff and trike drivers fairly well. The majority of trike divers can drop us off on our doorstep without being prompted to stop, and no one now seriously asks us for 150php back to Aninuan!
My last post explained our Zoox personal projects, so now a brief overview of Green Fins for those of you who are not familiar…
Green Fins is an initiative established in 2004 by the UNEP Coordinating Body on the Seas of East Asia (UNEP-COBSEA) and is coordinated throughout South East Asia by the Reef-World Foundation, a UK based Charity. The goal of the Green Fins initiative is to conserve coral reef’s and the associated ecosystems, by working in alliance with diving, snorkelling and private stakeholders within the tourism industry, to establish and apply environmentally friendly management approaches. As the recreational diving industry grows, stakeholders have a unique opportunity to improve the education of their guests, thereby promoting positive environmental change. Green Fins acts as a facilitator for these stakeholders to achieve the maximum sustainable use and protection for the local marine resources. In each country Green Fins employees and volunteers work in collaboration with Government, and Non-Government Organisations to achieve this goal.
Ans, Belinda and myself have completed a range of different duties that have contributed towards the successful implementation of the Green Fins initiative with members, over the last 7 weeks. Although I have titled this post “The Green Fins ‘Hat/Dive Hood’” the role of a Green Fins coordinator is more comparable to the Green Fins ‘SCUBA Equipment’…
- The dive centres and other stakeholders are the SCUBA cylinders. They are essential for Green Fins to succeed in completing the overall mission of coral reef conservation; just like that SCUBA cylinder is essential for any SCUBA dive. Without the stakeholders Green Fins would just be an idea! Through out this experience programme there has been continuous opportunity to communicate with stakeholders and nurture past relationships built between Green Fins members and Green Fins staff.
- The annual assessments that Ans, Belinda and I have been evaluating represents the SPG or the Dive computer. The assessment system measures the environmental impact of a centre, like an SPG measures air pressure, or a dive computer measures depth. The criterion of the assessment incorporates both activities during SCUBA diving outings and land based management of stakeholder’s facilities. It is based on a 15 point Code of Conduct which Green Fins members agree to when signing up, and has an associated scoring system based upon the level of risk to the environment. The lower the score, the lower the risk of environmental impact. So for example, anchoring has a higher risk and therefore higher score than a centre participating, or not participating, in beach cleanups.
- The feedback consultations we have been providing stakeholders with signify the Buoyancy Control Device, BCD. We generally offer centres three recommendations to assist them in controlling and reducing their risk of environmental impact until the next annual assessment. I have found this aspect most enjoyable as is a chance for decision-makers to discuss their concerns in regard to the environment and offers us as coordinators an opportunity to provide them with solutions.
- The training presentations we have each delivered to staff and non-specialist audiences is the SCUBA mask. These training sessions provide dive employees with biological and ecological insight, clear suggestions how they can relay this information to their guest and reduce damaging diver behaviour. Additionally these meetings give the staff ideas how to raise awareness and an opportunity to ask questions. The training shows stakeholders their role in the bigger environmental picture, like a mask shows a diver a snorkeler the underwater world.
- After every assessment, feedback, and training session we complete necessary admin by writing reports, inputting data and sending emails. This duty symbolises the Regulators, ensuring a smooth flow of communication between us the coordinators, the stakeholders, and the Government bodies and NGO’s involved in the Green Fins project. Furthermore linking everyone together, as SCUBA regulators link the cylinder, the BCD, the SPG and most importantly the Diver to the rest of the system.
In keeping with the SCUBA equipment theme it is only appropriate to describe Ans, Belinda and myself, the volunteer assessors, in addition to the permanent assessor teams as the Fins. We have developed a great work system here to support and motivate each other, maximising the teams efficiency under the guidance of Sam, Senior Programmes Manager and Alan, Programmes Manager. Furthermore we have assisted to propel the presence and implementation of Green Fins in Puerto Galera into its fifth year!