In July of 2014 GreenFins Thailand and Save Koh Tao hosted a training workshop to foster participation and awareness in marine conservation and also provide training on reef monitoring using the ReefWatch method. The 2 day event was attended by over 70 people, including 33 kids from the local school.
The workshop was given by Mr. Niphon Phongsuwan, who has been running the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) for 30 years. It was a great honor to have him here, and to be able to hear some of his knowledge and experience on the reefs around Thailand. It has been about 9 years since he was last here on Koh Tao, so it was also great to have a sort of reunion with him and his team.
The second day of the workshop, we were joined by 33 kids from the local school, who got to learn about the coral reef ecosystems and the ReefWatch Monitoring methods before going out for a snorkel in Mae Haad. It was quite a task to look after all those kids and get them to do the monitoring work, but with the help of volunteers from Crystal/Eco Koh Tao, Koh Exist, Master Divers, New Heaven, and Reef Dive Center we managed to have a very productive and fun day.
GreenFins is an international organization which has branches in 6 countries throughout Asia. Greenfins has developed an environmental set of standards for the dive and snorkeling industries, and promotes projects aimed at monitoring, protecting, and managing marine resources amongst communities and local stakeholders. The group is run by the Reef-World Foundation, and is also supported by the UNEP and Mangroves for the Future. Locally in Thailand, the group is also partnered with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources and the Phuket Marine Biological Center. Dive schools and individuals can become members of GreenFins by committing to their codes of conduct and involving in monitoring, clean-ups, and other conservation activities.
New Heaven Dive School has been a member of GreenFins-Thailand since 2005, and regularly use the ReefWatch Monitoring techniques to introduce visitors to the coral reef and conservation activities. In August of 2013 we even hosted our own snorkeling workshop with the local school, which was attended by 27 local kids. We are a proud member of this great organization, and hope to be a local leader in supporting their activities and projects in our area. When you visit us, be sure to ask about how you can get involved in the GreenFins program and receive training the ReefWatch Monitoring techniques so that you can contribute to their global database wherever you dive next.