Culion Municipal Pushes for Environmental Protection
The newly created Culion Municipal located on Culion Island, Calamines Group of Islands has just completed a 2-year study of the marine environment. Culion Island and 6 smaller islands. The study, funded by the local government with help from the Hyme Foundation, University of the Philippines and the Peace Corps, has identified 10 areas that will become restricted areas. The gathering of all classes of shellfish and net fishing will be banned. The only fishing activity allowed will be by hook and line.
The biggest area to become restricted will be the northern side of Chindonan Island, an area of more than 3 kilometers in length and covering 700 acres.
The Culion Municipal, created in 1995 whilst limited in funds, has, along with identifying coral reef areas, set aside other areas to be protected. Qumming Island will be restored with giant clams. Certain mangrove areas will become restricted also.
The chairman of the Committee of Tourism, Land Use and Natural Resources, Glen Lisboa, recently sent out a circular to resort owners and dive operators for any technical expertise and the use of dive equipment for the marine biologist assigned to Culion and those visiting from the University of the Philippines. However, only a few tourist operators in the area bothered to respond. Of those who did, Discovery Divers and Sangat Island Reserve offered air and tanks. The Palawan Wildlife Association loaned to the Culion Municipal 2 complete diving sets and, in conjuction with Serena Lesire Inc., made the motor banka Serina of Palawan available for some dives. But further help is desperately needed from interested parties to fully implement the restricted areas.
The five kilometer length of Chindonan Island is to have bouys installed with signs attached advising one and all that the area is now a protected area. Furthermore, bouys are to be installed for dive boat operators to use.
Alternative livelihood programs are to be implemented to assist those fishermen living in Chindonan Island using nets who will be displaced. Help is needed, and, once again, the Palawan Wildlife Association assisted, supplying some stainless steel wire for bouys and promising help with the alternative livelihood program when it is implemented.
Somarko Pearl Company will donate styrofoam bouys and the Culion Munipal will fabricate anchor blocks for divers who would like to dive in the area. They will need to contact Glen Lisboa, Culion Municipal.
Chindonan Island is located opposite Sangat Island on Coron Bay and is home to the Ramjet Seafood Restaurant. When diving with Scuba Venture, you can make two dives in Coral Bay and book a 2pm Seafood meal at the restaurant. Relax, then take a night dive on the stunning corals. A recent French visitor, who did just that, said that she has dived all over the world and had up until then only seen one angler fish. On her first night dive at Chindonan, she saw two only a meter apart and commented that the sponges were the brightest orange she had ever seen.
So, you divers and environmentalists, here is your chance to help. We have all heard that the Filipino people don't care about their marine resources. Well, the Culion Municipal does, but it needs your help. Their marine resources assessment, implementing marine parks, shelled mollusks sanctuaries, fish sanctuaries and identifying endangered species habitat also includes protective dive and snorkel areas. For those divers taking the opportunity to dive these areas, be careful with your fins. Don't remove any shell species or remove any steel pegs that the marine biologists have installed. This will be used again in the future to re-measure the coral growth to further help their research in protecting the area.
Anybody wishing to assist in any way can write to Glen Lisboa, Office of the Sangguniang Bayan, Culion 5315, Palawan, or contact the Philippine Diver magazine, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.