15th April 2016
KUALA LUMPUR: Green Fins Malaysia kicked off this year’s programme with a training session in Kota Kinabalu for Sabah-based assessors and coordinators. Meanwhile on Perhentian Island, Green Fins Malaysia also conducted re-assessment of 4 dive centres and recruited 6 new dive centres as Green Fins members. These trainings are in line with Green Fins Malaysia’s efforts to promote green diving practices in Malaysia with the hopes of reducing diver and snorkeler impacts to coral reefs.
Green Fins is a comprehensive approach that encourages dive centres, snorkel operators, local communities and governments to work together to reduce their environmental impacts. This is primarily done through the adoption of a 15-point Code of Conduct that will help operators to mitigate their impacts when carrying out marine tourism activities. Green Fins was originally initiated by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) under the Regional Seas programme. The Coral Reef Unit of UNEP now oversees the programme, in collaboration with UK charity The Reef-World Foundation.
Green Fins was first introduced in Malaysia in 2009 under the management of the Department of Marine Parks Malaysia (DMPM). It was then re-launched in 2014 in Tioman Island with Reef Check Malaysia (RCM) joining the management structure. 4 local assessors were trained, 3 from RCM and one from DMPM. As of 2015, there were 19 dive centres who were Green Fins Malaysia members, located on Tioman, Perhentian, Redan, Mabul and Mataking. The National Management Team is now successfully being run as a partnership between the DMPM and RCM.
This year, Sabah Parks and RCM collaborated to organise a 5-day Assessor Training Workshop conducted by Reef World. The newly trained team of Sabah-based assessors and coordinators will be in-charge of rolling out Green Fins to the dive industry in Semporna and Kota Kinabalu. 5 new Green Fins assessors were trained, two RCM staff and three new Sabah Parks Dive Marshals from Sipadan Marine Park. This new Green Fins Sabah team is armed with awareness-raising presentations and a suite of new educational materials to use to promote best practices, and they are set to support the thriving diving industry in Sabah to achieve sustainability.
“It is great to have Sabah Parks on board and pushing forward the Green Fins initiative in Sabah” says Nadhirah Rifai, RCM’s Green Fins coordinator based in Kota Kinabalu. She added: “Our clear goal is to promote a sustainable diving and snorkelling tourism industry. The new local team is hoping that we can get more and more dive operators in Sabah to sign up as a Green Fins member. By agreeing to follow the environmentally friendly guidelines set by Green Fins, dive operators not only will reduce their impact on the coral reefs, they will also at the same time inspire their guests to respect and care for the environment”.
Meanwhile, on the Perhentian Islands, the Green Fins Malaysia team conducted the annual reassessment of 4 dive centre members and also recruited 6 new Green Fins members. There are now 12 dive centres in Perhentian which are a part of Green Fins Malaysia. These members have not only agreed to adopt the 15-point Code of Conduct which is the basis of their membership, but are also committed to reducing their environmental impact. They will be assessed on an annual basis and have to ensure that they reduce or maintain their score from the previous year.
There are now 28 Green Fins members in Malaysia, and they are on the islands of Tioman, Redang, Perhentian, Mabul and Mataking, as well as Kota Kinabalu. The national management team hopes to promote this programme to all major diving destinations around the country to inspire sustainability within the marine tourism sector for the growing number of tourists coming to Asia.
|Group discussion during the Green Fins workshop in Kota Kinabalu||Team of trainers and newly certified Green Fins assessors|