Building on an incredible demand from the diving and tourism industry in the already active areas of the Maldives, Reef-World together with the Environmental Protection Agency and Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Office conducted the training of one new assessor and three new coordinators. The Biosphere Reserve provides protection for the huge Manta Ray aggregations that take place in Hanifaru Bay and the Rangers who patrol and regulate activities there were the obvious choice to train as assessors. This is with the aim that the Biosphere Rangers will now be able to build on their excellent dive centre relationships and assist in arranging the Green Fins assessment process together with assessors from Male. Due to the nature of the archipelago it is hoped that a coordinator team permanently based in Baa Atoll will aid the delivery of the programme while easing logistical pressures to travel from the city and conduct assessments.
The training also saw the creation of a new GF administrative role to better enable data upkeep, website management and membership liaison. It was an extremely positive step taken to maintain the long term sustainability of the GF initiative within EPA. This has already been productive, and already two assessments have been carried out since the training.
Following the success of Green Fins implementation in other areas of the Maldives, it is hoped that the new assessors and coordinators will help to ease the pressure created by the diving industry twho are demanding sustainable practices. This is an extremely positive move from the industry, who having seen the devastating impact of the recent bleaching event and poor diver behaviour, know that coral reef protection is more important than ever for sustaining livelihoods.
Green Fins has been active in the Maldives since 2014 and is coordinated by the Environmental Protection Agency (a legal regulatory entity working under the supervision of a governing body of the Ministry of Environment and Energy). The IUCN Maldives’ Mangroves for the Future programme supported the launch.