Over the years I’ve worked for Reef-World, I have heard the stories of the “birth” of Green Fins at Phuket Marine Biological Centre in Thailand. In 2004, as a new UN Environment initiative, Green Fins was first implemented through PMBC whose dedicated staff, in collaboration with Reef-World founder Anne Paranjoti (nee Miller) starting spreading the 15-point code of conduct around the local diving industry.
In 2008, our managers Chloe and JJ knocked on the door of PMBC looking for voluntary work experience. Their passion was soon harnessed to work on the Green Fins programme. The rest is history. History that I have taught to numerous volunteers through our sister company Zoox. History that I see shaping every decision we at Reef-World make. The very foundation, the ethos of Green Fins was born at PMBC.
The legacy from Anne and Khun Niphon Phongsuwan and Aey Suptuchong to name a few saturates my daily work life. Naturally, I was delighted to head over to Phuket last May with JJ to train a whole new team of Green Fins Assessors. I’ve always loved to see history brought to life and it was heart warming to visit Chloe and JJ’s old office, see the old faded Green Fins stickers on the tables and meet the people I’ve only seen in the depths of our photo library. Those stickers have formed the basis of Jula’s recent branding overhaul. Those people taught Chloe and JJ the lessons they now teach us. It felt like a full circle.
To top it off, it was a real pleasure to work with the new Assessor team, nine passionate conservationists (and a cat) from DMCR, GVI Thailand, North Andaman Network Foundation and independent researchers. The experience many had from years of conducting Green Fins awareness raising activities translated easily into the assessment process and it was a quite incredible to witness the respect that the marine tourism industry stakeholders have for them.
The Phuket tourism industry is overwhelming, and that was only seeing it at low season. However, the warm reception Green Fins got from the shops we worked with was incredible. It won’t be like that every assessment the team does, it never is, but to know that there are business owners out there that appreciate the chance to streamline sustainable practices into their every day practices is inspiring.
We’re all looking forward to seeing the plans of the Thailand team come to life and even more active Green Fins members added to the growing network.