COTABATO CITY—Selected members from the BARMM’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR) underwent scuba diving training from July 31 to August 5 at South Shore Divers and Maharlika Beach in General Santos City.
The training aimed to equip the six participants with the essential techniques, skills, and knowledge required for becoming certified scuba divers. These abilities are vital for effective management and conservation of marine resources within the region.
The PADI Open Water Diver Course provided foundational knowledge and skills to dive independently with a buddy, emphasizing safety as its foremost priority in course development, administration, and execution.
Senior Aquaculturist Honey Lou Marcelo highlighted that having skilled and certified divers within the ministry will facilitate underwater research, marine habitat monitoring, and more effective implementation of conservation efforts.
“By having personnel with expertise in scuba diving, the ministry can better understand the marine ecosystem’s health, identify potential threats or issues, and develop appropriate strategies to protect and sustainably manage marine resources,” she said.
“This step is crucial in promoting the long-term health and resilience of marine ecosystems, as well as supporting the livelihoods of communities that rely on these resources for their economic and social well-being,” she added.
Involvement in activities such as reef monitoring, marine species surveys, and underwater clean-up initiatives will further enhance marine conservation endeavors in the region.
With trained personnel, MAFAR will be better equipped to make informed decisions and take proactive measures to conserve marine biodiversity and address challenges linked to fisheries and coastal management.
The training program included both theoretical and experiential components. The experiential learning covered pool sessions to understand proper scuba gear usage, floating, breathing techniques, and actual diving. The open water scuba diving sessions progressively increased in depth, ranging from 5-6 meters to 18.6 meters.
In sum, investing in scuba diving training for personnel demonstrates a commitment to sustainable marine resource management and signifies progress towards ensuring a robust marine environment for future generations.
Developing and implementing responsive policies and innovative convergence programs to enhance training and facility access align with BARMM’s focus on Agri-Fishery Production and Food Security as part of the Enhanced 12-Point Priority Agenda. (Kasan Usop, Jr./BIO with reports from MAFAR)