The 5th International Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management Symposium (ITMEMS5) was recently organised by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) Secretariat: the Governments of Japan (Japanese Wildlife Research Centre) and the Philippines (Biodiversity Management Bureau). The symposium was held in Panglao, Bohol, the Philippines from the 25th – 28th February 2016 and was designed to build the conservation capacity of over 50 marine resource managers from 27 countries. Workshops included: Resilience-based Management; Marine Spatial Planning; Sustainable Financing of MPAs; Compensatory Mitigation for Reef Damage; and The Benefits of Periodic Fisheries Closures.
On the third day of the conference, Green Fins international coordinators (The Reef-World Foundation) and Green Fins National teams from Malaysia, Thailand and the Maldives facilitated a session demonstrating “How to reduce the impacts of reef tourism, through public-private partnerships, using the Green Fins approach”. The day began with Reef-World’s Programmes Manager, Chloë Harvey, highlighting the global need for effective coral reef management strategies, which deal directly with the growing diving and snorkelling tourism industries.
Breakout sessions followed where facilitators introduced managers to the Green Fins Toolkit of environmental awareness-raising materials. The next step involved thought-provoking questions resulting in an engaging discussion about the relevant threats the diving and snorkelling industries pose within each of their home countries. Green Fins National team representatives were able to provide them with examples of case studies where such threats have been successfully mitigated in their countries using the Green Fins approach.
In the afternoon, participants were introduced to local Green Fins members in Alona Beach, Panglao. Those participating in ITMEMS5, who were qualified SCUBA divers, were taken on a typical tourist dive with active, first year, Green Fins members. Facilitators and managers were able to point out tangible solutions to potential environmental threats and discuss possible applications of these Green Fins solutions in their home country.
Non-divers and snorkellers also had the opportunity to visit Green Fins member dive centres and discover how local business managers have incorporated Green Fins into the day-to-day running of their companies. Participants were also given the opportunity to meet JoJo Arcay, a Member of the Environmental Committee of Panglao’s Local Government Unit to see how Green Fins has enabled him to build stronger relationships with the private sector, whilst helping the local government create greater awareness to the potential threats of the diving and snorkelling industry, and enhance local legislation already in place.
The whole day was a huge success, allowing participating marine resource managers to see the adaptive and replicable qualities of the Green Fins approach and the simple solutions it can provide to protect the environment and reduce public-private conflict. It was a great privilege for the staff of Reef-World to be part of the entire symposium and to meet so many skilled managers and planners from all over the World. Thank you to all participants, facilitators and organisers for your engagement and dedication throughout the week.