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Reef-World completes first ever Green Fins “Train the Trainer” pilot

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Green Fins Capacity building in Malaysia and Thailand will help enable further global expansion

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.

For more information, please visit www.reef-world.org or www.greenfins.net.

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Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap

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The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.

Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.

Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers by A. Tareg

That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.

Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”

Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.

“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.

The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.

Manta ray, Manta birostris, gliding over a cleaning station in M’il Channel, Yap, Micronesia by David Fleetham

Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”

“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi.  The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”

“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”

Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!

For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)

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It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!

James


Subscribe here: http://bit.ly/DiversReady

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Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk to book your spot!

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