Puerto Galera’s Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, MENRO, forged partnership with Stairway Foundation in 2016. The collaboration was inspired by a series of Sea Adventure School trips for local village officials and representatives from the Bantay Dagat, which is the local group responsible for enforcing environmental protection policies along the coast.
One of the concerns addressed during the Sea Adventure trips for the village officials was the practice of fish feeding by tourists. This seemingly innocuous practice is a lucrative business. Tour guides and boatmen sell bread crumbs to tourists to feed the fish. However, according to studies, feeding the fish can have several negative impacts on the normal food web system and will result in algal bloom among corals, causing an unhealthy growth, if not the death of some corals.
The “No Fish Feeding” campaign, initiated and run by Stairway and MENRO, has achieved a significant result this season. According to MENRO Chief, Ms. Joan Yap, there has been a remarkable drop in fish feeding activities this summer during the peak of tourist influx in Puerto Galera. She says:
“During the conduct of the regular monitoring of the Bantay Dagat and the LGU, it has been noted that, aside from the few who are yet to grasp the impact of fish feeding on the marine biodiversity, majority of the members of the pump boat associations adhered to their pledge to help stop the fish feeding. Recently there are only minimal records of tourists and boatmen who allow or do fish feeding. There were also instances where some boatmen give warnings to other boatmen regarding the effect of fish feeding.“
“The conduct of the Sea Adventure trips for the different village officials of the whole municipality of Puerto Galera has influenced the attitude of many. The MENRO now has local partners in the villages for the dissemination and information drive among their constituents. The village leaders and the council members have pledged to consider the creation of ordinances prohibiting the fish feeding activity in their areas of jurisdictions“, the MENRO chief noted.
To further encourage local support to protect the beautiful and diverse marine life in Puerto Galera, Stairway Foundation together with PADI have sponsored dive certification of three officials from MENRO last July.
Contributed by Jason Arbarquez, EACY coordinator, SFI