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Coral reefs are one of the most important and productive ecosystems on earth, but they face grave threats from global to local scales. From the effects of climate change, overfishing, pollution and much more, the reefs that millions of people rely on are facing a bleak future. A key method to protecting reefs is through promoting their resilience to these threats. The fewer local threats they face, the stronger the ecosystem is to survive bleaching events and other global issues.
Safety standards for diving are so deeply embedded in the industry they are now a habit. Through Green Fins, we are working to achieve the same for environmental standards. Green Fins, active across 11 countries, is a proven approach to reducing the impacts of marine tourism on coral reefs. This funding has supported the growth of the programme in Indonesia – a world class diving destination and part of The Coral Triangle – with some of the best reefs in the world. By mitigating the local threats from tourism activities (e.g. anchoring, touching coral, use of sunscreen), this project continues to protect and conserve Indonesia’s precious reefs for the future.
In October 2019, Reef-World trainers travelled to Ambon, Indonesia, to conduct a 6-day training workshop for 6 Green Fins Assessors from the provinces of Maluku, North Maluku, West Papua, Jakarta and Bali.
This included recruiting dive operators as Green Fins members and assessing and certifying their environmental performance. All trainees received hard and soft copies of the Green Fins Assessor Pack with all the tools and materials they need to implement Green Fins in their respective locations. The training included Green Fins theory, an evaluation of trainees’ diving skills and a test, which all 6 assessors passed with flying colours.
As part of their training, the teams conducted real-life Green Fins assessments with 2 dive shops, including providing feedback and solutions to dive shop management to improve their environmental performance. Both dive shops also received a Green Fins awareness raising presentation for their dive staff and boat crew, that was adapted for local issues. As new Green Fins members, both dive shops received a Member Pack of environmental materials and a certificate of membership.
This project also supported the vast amount of admin and preparatory work behind the scenes of this training workshop, promoting the work post-workshop, as well as ongoing remote technical support from Reef-World to the new team.
Whilst the main stakeholder of Green Fins are the dive and snorkel operator members, it is the staff run the shop and dive every day that hold the key to ensuring a sustainable future for both coral reefs, and the diving industry. Often from the local area, they become the eyes for their community on the reef – a unique position to bring home inspiring stories from the sea. The dive staff we worked with during this project were incredibly proud of the marine life of Ambon, especially of certain endemic species such as the astounding Psychedelic Frogfish (pictured above).
They are also the first to see the destruction caused by careless divers or intrepid underwater photographers who move and manipulate (a.k.a. stress out) marine life just to get the perfect photo. The tools, posters and guidance from Green Fins were received really well by the local dive guides – giving them effective tools to balance customer satisfaction and the need to correct or stop their guests if they are causing damage to the marine environment.
Since the training, one of the new Green Fins member shops has organised a large-scale clean up event with other dive shops, and local community members and NGOs, collecting 168kg of rubbish! It’s the start of a monthly activity that will unite the community.
This project has boosted impact of Green Fins Indonesia, enabling it to be able to reach and work with hundreds of dive operators across the country and help them reduce their environmental impact. The work continues, with this team already having conducted assessments and certified 9 operators this year. The demand for Green Fins membership in Indonesia is substantial, and this team will continue to work with the diving industry and local community to identify threats and implement solutions for the protection of their reefs and livelihoods.