July 2016 – Green Fins Philippines – Second Round of Assessments for Members in Panglao, Bohol.

Panglao, Bohol, is currently in its second year of Green Fins implementation. The tourism industry is undergoing a rapid expansion with everyone focussed on the planned international airport. As tourist numbers are set to dramatically increase, everyone is aware of the impact this could have on the environment significant in tourist numbers, and what that means for the environment.

For six weeks in July and August, Green Fins assessors conducted Green Fins assessments for members in Panglao, Bohol. Expanding on the 12 fully assessed members from 2015, assessors recruited and assessed an additional six dive centres. In total 18 dive centres were trained to the following of environmental standards, reaching 193 individuals. The assessments showed that the dive centres entering their second year of membership had, on average, reduced their assessment score, and therefore environmental impact, by 33%. This is a fantastic effort and it is hoped that this positive environmental impact will continue to reduce into 2017 and make the industry more sustainable.

In addition to the GF assessments, four dive guides with exceptional environmental standards were highlighted to become GF Ambassadors. They were provided with additional training in customer service for the environment and reef education. They were taken on an educational dive and got the chance to practice customer interaction underwater and correction of poor diving behaviours. Together, they came up with a mission statement to help them focus their future environmental efforts. They decided to: “Protect our livelihoods by being good environmental role models and improving our knowledge because diving without knowledge of marine life is no life!”

Picture of Panglao, Bohol.

Together with the local Government, an environmental campaign was designed to integrate into the upcoming snorkel guide accreditation scheme. It is hoped that successful delivery of the training will allow a national scheme to be developed, providing educating and training to hundreds of snorkel guides across the Philippines.

Solutions were also sought for the responsible disposal of oil and flashlight batteries. These were then communicated to the dive centres through the Green Fins Guide which is provided to every dive centre.

As part of Green Fins material development, 48 consultations were held to identify trends in North Asian marketing strategies to best create environmental materials aimed at this group of emerging divers. This comes as a response from the diving industry identifying a need for better management of underwater diver behaviour. This is a major success in creating a demand for sustainable diving behaviours.

Philippine Fun Divers are just one dive centre in Panglao who are committed to reducing their environmental impact. Manager Rena receives their 2016 GF certificate

There have been many changes recently in Panglao as the Government act to protect their coral reefs. The dive centres are very aware of the impacts the industry is having and want to make Panglao a better place to work and dive in. Everyone is making moves in the right direction for environmental protection with positive attitudes from both the diving industry and the government.