Rey Anthony H. Chiu
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, March 9, 2012 (PIA) – Marine conservationists engaged in the protection and conservation of Bohol’s marine mammals and other ocean dwellers call for the creation of a provincial ordinance governing the operation of tourism related marine activity here.
At the recent Kapihan sa PIA, an Italian non government organization into the protection and Conservation of large marine vertebrates said that this ordinance would then be the over-all basis for municipal ordinances that will soon regulate the operation and conduct of dolphin, whaleshark, sea turtle, whales and recreational sports activities to assure minimum compliance.
According to NGO Physalus through its president Dr. Alessandro Ponzo, Baclayon town may have a very good municipal ordinance governing the dolphin and whale watching tours, but it still has to incorporate whale shark interactions, which is probably the future direction for eco-tourism activities in the southern Bohol seas.
Dr. Ponzo, a marine biologist stressed during the weekly forum aired over DyTR, that Bohol seas, a critical area which is the center of biodiversity for Asia should be a potential rich tourism resource.
Dr. Ponzo’s group has been doing marine surveys all over Bohol seas to put up the databank which would be helpful in future policy directions for marine and coastal conservation especially in the rich marine seas of Bohol.
Of the country’s 28 large marine species, 18 have been found in Bohol seas, Dr. Ponzo said highlighting a bio-diversity that may he hard to equal.
Ponzo’s group confirmed earlier reports that migration paths for whale-sharks take them to the very deep trenches running very close to the shores of Bohol, a reason why dolphins and whales could easily be spotted even from the coastlines.
While spinner and pan-tropical spotted and bottle-nosed dolphins are known to reign over these waters, the marine survey group which is joined by Silliman University also claim that pilot, melon headed and blue whales including the twice in a row spotted whale sharks have been frequenting these waters too.
The provincial ordinance would not only set the template but also define the interaction method which Boholanos may see as appropriate, considering local environment code, Dr. Ponzo said.
This also came following apprehensions that whale-shark interaction, which has earned criticisms from sustainable marine resources groups as in nearby Oslob in Cebu could also be copied here.
While Physalus is helping Bohol by organizing scientific data for dolphins and whales, the collected information could well help shape public opinion and policies for a more sustainable tourism in Bohol seas. (30)