Move to regulate whale shark watching draws support

By Gerard Vincent Francisco |October 04,2018 - 11:15 PM

THE plan of the Cebu Provincial Government and the Oslob municipal government to regulate the number of tourists who plan to interact with Oslob’s whale sharks has gained support.

Shahlimar Tamano, the Regional Director of the Department of Tourism in Central Visayas (DOT–7) said he is backing the move because according to him, the sustainability of the area is just as important as the number of tourists who want to watch the gentle giants.

“We don’t want the destination to be only one year or two years, we want it to be sustainable,” he told Cebu Daily News over the phone.

He also said that the regulation should only be towards limiting the number of tourists and should not affect tourism activities in the town because “tourism is about employment.”

Meanwhile, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) OIC Jayson Lozano also supported the plan to create a technical working group (TWG) that will be tasked to come up with guidelines regarding whale watching in Oslob.

According to Lozano, one of the environmental hazards that the butandings face are the trash and garbage thrown into the sea by the tourists.

He said that the TWG should be able to address basic concerns like how many tourists should be allowed to watch the sharks and at what time of the day should interactions be allowed.

Lozano however, voiced his concern for the welfare of the butandings in Oslob which he said are supposedly wild animals, and therefore should be left alone.

“Wild man gud na sila. Mutanaw ko usahay, maluoy gyud ko,” Lozano said.

On Wednesday, Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, head of the province’s tourism council, met with tourism stakeholders and decided to cut the number of tourists allowed to interact with the whale sharks from 1,000 to only 500 per day.

Tamano also bared that the TWG will start looking into the needs of the whale sharks as he expressed confidence that the final draft of guidelines will be ready after two to three meetings of the group.

The members of the TWG, Tamano said, are still to be named but it will reportedly include top Capitol officials and
representatives from DENR–7, DOT–7 and other agencies.

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