ArchivesJuly 2010Dive boat banned from Dauin waters

Dive boat banned from Dauin waters

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Top officials of Dauin, Negros Oriental, fuelled by what they describe as utter disregard for the law by the luxury live-aboard dive yacht S/Y Philippine Siren, announced Thursday they will be imposing a total ban of the said vessel from bringing dive tours to Apo Island and the town’s rich marine reserves. {{more}}

Vice Mayor Rodrigo Alanano said he had already asked Mayor Neil Credo to immediately revoke the special permits given by the town to the S/Y Philippine Siren to operate at Apo Island — a Protected Landscape and Seascape — without prejudice to the ongoing investigation of an incident at which the vessel allegedly destroyed a large expanse of coral reefs there.

At the same time, Alanano said he and other officials will be studying the possibility of taking legal action against the captain of the yacht and its mother company for the destruction. Alanano has invoked the town’s power and authority over Apo Island as part of its territorial jurisdiction even though management of the island has been transferred to the national government.

After Apo Island was declared by the national government as a Protected Landscape and Seascape in 1994, a Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) was created to oversee the affairs of the island. Alanano has slammed the PAMB for alleged lapses and failures to do their functions in managing Apo Island and is also demanding an explanation as to why the LGU was not informed about the destruction of the corals that happened two weeks ago.

What had sparked the stringent moves against the 40-footer dive yacht operated by Worldwide Dive and Sail was the vessel’s return to the island on Tuesday and Thursday this week despite a suspension order issued by Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) Viernov Grefalde last June 28. The order prohibits the Philippine Siren to moor/operate within the jurisdiction of the Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape pending ongoing investigation.

We want to send out a strong and clear message to divers, dive shops and dive tour operators and the public that we mean business, said Alanano, in saying he wants a total ban of the yacht from Dauin’s marine territory.

Last June 25, an estimated 76 meters in length and two meters in width of coral formations were destroyed after the yacht, which was dislodged from its mooring buoy, dragged a large coral head across the bottom of the sea.

Mario Pascobello, chief of the Bantay Dagat (fish wardens) of Apo Island, said that
the coral head served as the sink of the mooring buoy, the latter of which was not even designed for large boats like the Philippine Siren.

According to Pascobello, he called for a conference with the ship captain, island village chief Liberty Rhodes, and a representative from the Worldwide Dive and Sail, a certain Marcos Santos, upon noticing that the Philippine Siren had returned again to the island Thursday.

Pascobello said he asked that the yacht immediately leave the island or else he would call in the authorities. The yacht left around 11 in the morning and was monitored sailing off towards Cebu by reporters who were in town to interview Dauin officials then.

Pascobello said he is supporting the move of the town officials in totally banning the yacht from coming to Apo Island.

Officials are now gathering documented evidence of the destruction in Apo Island and are working closely with Danny Ocampo, a campaigner for Greenpeace in Southeast Asia, who had taken underwater video footage of the area that was damaged.

Ocampo told this reporter he will be going back to Apo Island soon to further conduct his own investigation into the incident. (PNA/Judy Flores)







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