The status of the whale shark watching tourist industry in Oslob
Report on the status of the whale shark watching tourist industry in Tan-awan, Oslob, Cebu.
This report has been written by
Oslob’s Whale Shark Project Coordinator
BSc. Marine Biology (Hons), MSc. Applied Marine Science
University of Plymouth, (UK)
This report is the result of 5 months of intensive work and represents only the first steps towards a better understanding of the behavior and biology of these giant fish and the effect that human activities have on them.
We strongly believe that proper information and education are the foundation of environmental conservation, and this is the reason why this report is open to the public.
Understanding the long term effects of our actions on an animal that will reach maturity in half the life span of a human and that can live much longer that any man is difficult and humbling, and this is one of the primary reasons why the “precautionary principle” should apply in a situation such as this.
Physalus does not agree with feeding any species of wildlife, in particular a long-living migratory species like the whale shark.
Unfortunately, our NGO is not in the position of making any decisions regarding the practice of provisioning, but nonetheless we feel the obligation to study and monitor this activity to learn more about the effect on the animals and provide, through rigorous data collection, strong tools to allow the Authorities to properly manage the practice and make informed decisions.
This report has been created for the Local Government Unit in Oslob, for DENR and BFAR region 7 and the Cebu Provincial Government, to provide recommendations on how to improve the practice.
It is not the intention of this report to be an attack on the provisioning, the tourism industry in Oslob or the local communities.
Evidences indicating that provisioning has a detrimental effect on the whale sharks have been already presented in several occasions to the Authorities in the past 6 months.
We think the provisioning should stop and that tourism related activities should be converted into a well-managed eco-friendly activity, following the footprints and the astonishing examples of Southern Leyte (LGU of Limasawa and Pintuyan) and the model of Donsol, Sorsogon.
Physalus understands the importance of tourism as a source of livelihood for the local community, but we would like to emphasize that in order to be a real long-term alternative and to increase the welfare of the community it has to be done in a sustainable way.
Physalus will keep studying the whale sharks in Oslob and work for their protection while providing its service to the Authorities and the communities.
Our team is present in the waters of Oslob every day and will keep working with the community for the protection of its marine resources and to raise awareness and social responsibility, independently from the provisioning activities.
In the hope that the provisioning will cease, our team will be first in line to help the community to reorganize and adapt to the new situation, creating educational tools both for the tourists and the people of Oslob and management tools for the Authorities.