August 2018 – Green Fins Philippines – Building capacity to manage El Nido’s booming snorkelling industry

Picture of a dive boat on the ocean in El Nido.

Green Fins launched in El Nido in 2012, under the care of The El Nido Foundation. The Foundation has lead the sustainable tourism agenda in this booming tourist hotspot. Previously, the focus has been on the diving industry. However, island-hopping tours with snorkelling and beach stops are now dramatically growing in popularity. Key threats to the local reefs include anchoring, poor snorkelling practices including stepping on coral, and the use of single-use plastic by tour operators and vendors. These practices have been seen throughout the tour destination Bacuit Bay.

Over the years, Reef-World has worked closely with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Together, they institutionalised Green Fins through the legal instruments of the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program (CMEMP) and Technical Bulletin 2017-16. This enabled Reef-World to train a new team of Snorkel Assessors to work with Green Fins snorkel operator members.

Between 6-11 August 2018, seven new assessors were certified. This created new collaborations between the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area Office, CENRO Taytay and The El Nido Foundation. During this training, the team certified four Green Fins members and reached 10 tour staff through awareness raising activities. As a result of the MIMAROPA Region work plan for 2019 now including Green Fins, both diving and snorkelling businesses can expect more support from the new team. Reef-World is proud to support the team as they work with the industry to establish a more sustainable tourism industry.

Green Fins awareness raising activities started in the Philippines in 2004 and the initiative was then officially launched in 2010. Green Fins Philippines is implemented by the Coastal and Marine Division under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) with support from NGOs including Batangas Community Divers, The El Nido Foundation and Marine Conservation Philippines.