PANGLAO, Bohol – Officials led by Mayor Leonila Montero and Vice-Mayor Pedro Fuertes of this premier tourist town are set to strictly enforce the carrying capacity of its rich scuba dive sites, tourism and coastal management officer Darwin Menorias said. The municipal ordinance will be implemented in all 16 dive sites. But first, the enforcers are focusing on Balicasag island, off barangay Poblacion, which “is undeniably the prime attraction of Bohol divers,” he said. It has five sites: Diver’s Haven, Royal Garden, Marine sanctuary, Rudy’s Rock and Black Forest.
In a meeting early this week, Menorias and tourist police officers led by Jojit Mananquil, consultant Danny Reyes and other enforcers, agreed that information dissemination through face-to-face dialogue must be conducted among the stakeholders of said island.
Menorias said that the basis of the enforcement is the Municipal Ordinance No.11, series of 2014, Amending An Ordinance No. 03, series of 2008, “An Ordinance providing for the establishment of environmental users activity system in the municipality of Panglao, Bohol, and imposing fees thereof.”
The municipal government shall implement the “no ticket, no dive policy” under section 14 of said measure, which provides “monitoring, collection and inspection of tickets shall be conducted in a manner convenient to the tourist and/or dice centers/shops/operators effecting efficient collections.”
The municipality under the Montero-Fuertes tendem tries to attain the objectives of (a) sustaining and managing the utilization of the marine resources; (b) minimizing the negative impact due to related activities; (c) increasing revenue collection; and (d) implementing the provision of the Ordinance.
Under section 3 letter (y), article 1 of said Ordinance, dive carrying capacity refers to as “diver carrying capacities of 60 dives/site/day as a measure of the number of divers a reef can tolerate without becoming significantly degraded.”
Section 3 letter (z) of article 1 provides that boat carrying capacity refers to “ boat carrying capacities of 30 dive boats/day and 30 island hopping boats/day to Balicasag island as a measure of the number of boats a reef can tolerate without becoming significantly degraded.”
The said Ordinance provides the rates for dive activities off the island. The Environmental Users Fees (EUF) in the island’s dive sites are pegged at Php250/person/day; Transient boat for one day visit, PhP2,000/boat; Live-aboard boat for one day visit, PhP3,500.
The measure also provides “no special transient permit no dive policy. This means that transient dive centers/shops/operators conducting diving or snorkel activity within the town’s seawter jurisdiction “shall obtain a special transient permit upon registration and payment of the corresponding fees.”
Failure to secure such permit, transient operators will not be allowed to operate/conduct any diving or snorkeling activities within the terriotorial jurisdiction of the town.
Acts considered as violations under the said measure include the following: introductory dive and first level of scuba training of students in any sites in Balicasag; all types of fishing and extraction of marine and coastal resources in declared demarcated marine protected area; cutting of mooring buoys; improper disposition of tickets; discharging of bilge water from boats; vandalism and literring in the area; wearing of gloves within demarcated dive sites; boats traversing along the core zone of MPAs; mooring of boats/banca outside the designated mooring sites; and other acts inimical to the sites. (rvo)