November 2016 – Green Fins Philippines – Rapid Site Assessment in Moalboal

Moalboal is the second longest running location for Green Fins, entering its 5th year of activities in 2016. The extensive near-shore reefs coupled with Pescador Island, spectacular drop-off topographies and a consistent presence of a large school of sardines have established Moalboal as a premier diving destination in the Philippines. In 2015, Moalboal members saw an increase in the potential threat from their dive centres, even above their first scores, so recently international coordinators from Reef-World returned to reinvigorate momentum. Spending just one week in Moalboal to undertake a rapid site assessment, the assessors renewed 11 memberships and conducted nine training sessions to enhance their knowledge on marine conservation issues and techniques for managing diver impacts, supporting Green Fins members further reducing their impacts on the very corals their businesses depend on.

The results of the rapid site assessment were highly encouraging, the 2016 assessments showed a substantial improvement in environmental practices from the members, with the risk rating dropping by an average of 30 points (for more on the assessment system see here). Notably direct diver damage reduced by almost 50% from 2015 and the assessments showed that dive guides were displaying better role model behaviour and managing divers to prevent damage to marine life. 

As the diving industry doesn’t exist in isolation, neither do Green Fins activities. As part of the Global Challenges Research Fund Impact Acceleration Account, Dr. Ronan Roche from the University of Bangor joined the team to learn more about Green Fins and the attitudes and relationships the diving industry has with their primary business asset. 

Furthermore, responding to concerns expressed by Green Fins members, Reef-World will be working with the local and provincial government to provide education and guidance for a rapidly growing snorkeling industry that has recently boomed in Moalboal. It is hoped that the diving industry will continue to improve their practices and set a tone of sustainability and best practices for the snorkel industry to follow. 

Picture of assessors from Green Fins Philippines with members from Maolboal. One person is holding a certificate and others are making the 'OK' hand gesture.