SAN JUAN, La Union – In order to equip selected technical personnel from the Department of Environment anSCUBA1d Natural Resources, Region- I (DENR- I) including its field offices, with the necessary underwater skills and Self- Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) diving knowledge, a five (5) - day Basic and Advanced SCUBA Diving Training was held in Puerto de San Juan Beach Resort and Hotel, Ili Sur, San Juan, La Union last April 5- 9, 2021. Participants are composed of eight (8) males and two (2) females.

Facilitated by DENR- I, Conservation and Development Division (CDD) headed by Barbara M. Pernia with the Coastal Resources and Foreshore Management Section (CRFMS) headed by Analyn N. Viray and Program Manager Ariel V. Arizabal, the capacity- building activity as required by the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), is pursuant to the DENR Administrative Order No. 2016- 26 or the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program (CMEMP), aims to upgrade, retool and enhance the diving workmanship and leadership skills of current roster of divers and at the same time, provide an opportunity to train other DENR- I potential technical personnel from the field offices. Since the current roster of DENR SCUBA is undermanned due to various factors, the training will augment the number of capable and performing SCUBA divers in the region. SCUBA Diving is indispensable skill and has variety of crucial uses in the DENR, ranging from underwater assessment and monitoring of coral reefs, seagrasses, water quality apparatus installation, retrieval, among others.

The main objective of the training was to equip SCUBA3CMEMP technical personnel with basic and advanced SCUBA Diving skills, enhance their individual water confidence and survival proficiencies necessary in carrying out their various essential tasks in the coastal and marine environment. The training was facilitated through a series of lectures, self- reading of provided basic and advanced skills training manuals, audio- visual presentation, pool sessions, open water activities, elective dives, course examination on both written and practical skills demonstrations. Amidst the pandemic, stricter measures on health protocols during the duration of the training were imposed after a close coordination with LGU- San Juan and the Provincial Government of La Union which granted the activity with certain conditions. The pool of diving instructors came all the way from Seasport Park and Dive of San Luis, Batangas. The training sessions were confined in a pool and open waters (sea).

The new DENR- I divers were extremely happy that they have survived the rigorous training despite their orientation as foresters and more adapted working in the forests. The additional seven (7) new Open Water SCUBA divers will be of great help to the regional office divers especially specially when they are in the field likewise, the three (3) Advanced Open Water and Divemaster participants were also equipped with new skills in advanced and leadership techniques which is vital in unpredictable nature of marine environment. Participants on said training recommended the reactivation of the DENR- I SCUBA Diving Team and creation of SCUBA Diving instructors. (GCG- RSCIG)