The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinators of Green Fins – has completed the successful pilot of its Green Fins “Train the Trainer” programme; the first of its kind in the world in the 11 years Green Fins has been adopted as a management approach by participating governments. As part of the programme, Reef-World has successfully certified three new Green Fins trainers in Malaysia and three in Thailand. These six champions of the Green Fins network are now qualified to train new Green Fins assessors in country; building capacity for the initiative’s continued expansion in each country.
The new trainers are:
- Alvin Chelliah, Reef Check Malaysia
- Sue Yee Chelliah, Reef Check Malaysia
- Nadhirah Mohammed Rifai, Reef Check Malaysia
- Sathika Phaokanta, Phuket Marine Biological Center
- Ornanong Pengchumrus, Phuket Marine Biological Center
- Petchrung Sukpong, Phuket consultant
Diving related damage to sensitive marine ecosystems, including coral reefs, is becoming an increasingly significant issue. This damage makes them less likely to survive other local and wider stressors, such as over fishing or run-off from land containing pollutants and plastic debris as well the effects of climate change, such as rising sea temperatures.
Green Fins is a UN Environment initiative, internationally coordinated by The Reef-World Foundation, which aims to protect and conserve coral reefs through environmentally-friendly guidelines that promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling tourism industry. It provides the only internationally recognised environmental standards for the diving and snorkelling industry and has a robust assessment system to measure compliance.
The newly qualified Green Fins assessors, who are now certified to conduct assessments of Green Fins dive centres in their region, are:
- Lau Chai Ming (Edmund), Reef Check Malaysia
- Mohammed Shahir Yaman, Reef Check Malaysia
- Laddawan Sangsawang, Marine and Coastal Resources Research and Development Center The Eastern Gulf of Thailand
- Kanokwan Thansamai, Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (Bangkok)
- Amornrat Saiseing, Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (Bangkok)
- Warangkana Pasasuk, Thailand Responsible Tourism Association
- Theeraya Indraraksa, North Andaman Network Foundation
JJ Harvey, Director at The Reef-World Foundation, said: “The proven Green Fins conservation approach offers dive and snorkel companies practical, low-cost alternatives to harmful practices – such as anchoring, fish feeding and chemical pollution from everyday cleaning products, for example. The feedback, training and support provided to dive shops is based on robust onsite assessments which allows for identifying areas of risk to negative impacts to coral reefs and the marine environment. There are currently 44 active (assessed within the last 18 months) Green Fins members in Malaysia and 8 in Thailand, with 198 businesses that have been involved with Green Fins since its inception. So, the increased capacity created by establishing autonomous teams in Thailand and Malaysia – through the certification of six new assessor trainers – will enable the Green Fins initiative to support even more members in reducing their negative environmental impacts on coral reefs.”
Alvin Chelliah, Reef Check Malaysia, said: “The course was very interesting. It really taught us how to share the knowledge we’ve gained over the years with the new and upcoming assessors. I think it is an important part of building the Green Fins network in the country and hopefully now we will be able to spread the programme with more dive locations, get more dive centres involved and take care of our reefs better.”
Khun Niphon Phongsuwan, Green Fins Thailand Network Leader and coral reef expert, said: “When we recruit people as Green Fins members, we don’t know if that person is following the code of conduct or not so the assessment is needed to see how effective Green Fins can be.”
Lau Chai Ming , Reef Check Malaysia, said: “Through the course, I’ve found out very simple things we can do to ensure dive operations can be more environmentally friendly. Things like reducing chemical usage in the cleaning of kit and imposing no touch policies is something that is very simple but do-able for dive centres.”
Petchrung Sukpong said: “I think the course was very useful because, on the national level, we have built capacity of people to be trainers; it’s like planting one tree which then grows fruit to spread. We now have three assessor trainers in Thailand who can train more people to be assessors. This will help the government do the assessments in the future and help fill capacity gaps in Thailand.”