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Viet Nam

Update from Vietnam

I am currently sitting on a train travelling south in Vietnam surrounded by many families, some eating some sleeping and there are lots children playing up and down the aisle. The train has wooden ceilings punctuated by glass light covers emitting a dull and fairly useless light. The coaches have wooden decorated door frames, stainless steel water drinking coolers by the door, and every seat (soft seat class!) is at a slightly different angle to the one next to it as a result of the stresses imposed on it from over the years from passengers and luggage and probably the odd animal.  I am surprised at the quietness of this Asian train (probably the cool a/c) and the general well-mannered behaviour of the kids. Not one’s usual location for writing a blog but then where is there in life?

Myself and Chloe have just finished a site visit to Nha Trang, where the Green Fins project is to be implemented this coming October 2013. Reef-World are working alongside our long running partner, UNEP under a Mangroves for the Future regional initiative which will see Green Fins being introduced under the governments of the Maldives and Viet Nam under a 2 year programme. Our aim is to lessen the impact from the ever growing marine tourism industry on coral reefs enabling them to become more resilient to wider more serious threats such as climate change and over harvesting activities. The full title is “Protecting Marine Ecosystems in MFF Countries Using the Green Fins Approach” and we have already gained a huge amount of support and interest.

Reef-World are the UNEP designated international coordinators of Green Fins (previously regional coordinators up until 2013 when it was introduced into the Maldives, not in SE Asia) which essentially means that we are the technical advisors who carry out training for the government departments to run the project independently to achieve their aims and personal targets. Reef-World have so far build a solid relationship with the Environmental Protection Agency in the Maldives under the  Ministry of Environment and the Institute of Oceanography under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology who will be overseeing Green Fins in their respective countries. Two very different countries with different priorities for Green Fins to tackle, which I am sure it will do successfully.

Myself and Chloe will be returning to these countries in October 2013 for the training and implementation phase of the project into a single location within both countries. Invariably this will be a testing time with many teething problems but this is what makes the project so unique is that it is not a one size fits all project and moulds to the needs of the country and more importantly the location upon which it is implemented.

So in the time it has taken me to recharge my laptop that ran out on the train, I am now at Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) International airport waiting for my flight (please be on time) to depart for Thailand for meeting with UNEP in Bangkok but more importantly, Khun Niphon and the team down at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre where it all started. Updates to follow…

Boarding on time, thank you Thai Air Asia!