A Broadcasted Image Of Tourists Riding Whale Sharks Made DOT Launch Awareness Campaign To Protect The Species

by Frank D. Gardner

Whale Sharks Giving Rise To Tourism

The Ministry of Tourism or (DOT - Department of Tourism) encouraged regional government agencies as well as the public, particularly in the protected marine areas to know about marine conservation and learn how to behave in the presence of whale sharks, particularly in areas where such species of shark (Rhincodontypus) is commonly found.

According to Tourism Minister, Ramon Jimenez, "Tourism must exist together with the protection and conservation of marine animals, and should encourage public awareness and provide training for people to act effectively and properly deal with wildlife and in order to avoid interference with the natural behavior of animals like the whale shark."

Right after the dissemination of photographs from visitors stroking and even riding on a whale shark on the island of Cebu, Jimenez's order was issued. The fishermen's nets in deep water caught the whale shark. The fish was intended to be released the moment the fishing vessel reached the coast, however, a local business man paid the fishermen for keeping the shark captive to make it as a tourist attraction. The broadcasted images have raised protests from environmentalists.

Though it was let go after two hours, the whale shark was wounded in the head and tail, reported sources from the BFAR or Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

The guidelines are to be fulfilled by both parties concerned in protecting their natural resources, and to educate the public on matters of protection of the marine ecosystem, added by Jimenez.

The DOT stated it has had contacts with BFAR representatives to give assistance with the preparation of a caravan which will travel the coast throughout the month of May, called the ocean month, in order to sensitize the people regarding the marine wealth protection.

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