During July and August of this year, a team of volunteer Green Fins assessors are working with Green Fins members in Moalboal, Cebu for a fourth year! Moalboal continues to be a hotspot for divers in Cebu, with divers flocking to see the famous school of sardines, even during low season.
Moalboal presents a unique situation for Green Fins due to its proximity to the whale shark feeding activities in Oslob, Cebu. Supporting this unsustainable tourist activity goes against the ethos of Green Fins, and under direction from the United Nations Environment Programme, any dive center actively supporting this activity fall under the criteria for suspension of membership.
Over the last two years, assessors have found that many operators disagree with providing diving excursions but feel obligated to provide trips there, as demand is extremely intense. In order for Green Fins to continue to have an impact, it was decided to continue to work alongside these ‘suspended’ operators to try and improve their environmental practices so that these businesses, through annual environmental assessments and awareness training presentations, can reduce their impact and maybe stop taking guests to Oslob altogether however they are not promoted online through the Green Fins network or receive the benefits of being promoted at international events.
Another major concern of the members of Moalboal is the growing, but still informal snorkelling industry, and damage caused by poor snorkelling and boating practices. Green Fins assessors are exploring opportunities with the local municipal and barangay governments to raise awareness with these operators to maintain sustainable activities on local reefs.
The volunteer coordinators are taking the opportunity of their time here to support local initiatives with various side-projects including building the capacity of local dive guides, the Green Fins Ambassadors, to influence change amongst their peers. They are also lending their support to organize a large local community clean up event, as well as supporting a highly active teachers association that works to weave environmental education into the local elementary curriculum.
Dive operators and staff in Moalboal have shown a strong passion for environmental protection over the four years since Green Fins was introduced and the assessors hope to see this reflected in effective and consistent policies implemented by members, which will ultimately lead to a reduction of their impact on the marine environment. This all lends its hand to a sustainable diving industry.
A battery collection point from Green Fins work in 2013