Whale shark photo shoot sparks eco-tourism debate in Philippines
Salceda blasts ‘eco-terrorism’ vs whale sharks
By Mar S. Arguelles, Inquirer Southern Luzon,
January 15th, 2013
LEGAZPI CITY—Albay Gov. Joey Salceda on Friday harshly criticized a tourism campaign of a Cebu town centered on the whale shark, saying that what the town is promoting is “eco-terrorism.”
The mayor of Oslob town, however, said the governor was simply jealous of his town’s successful whale shark tourism program.
Salceda, in a phone interview, lashed out as “abusive” the promotional photo of the butanding (whale shark) in Oslob which shows the gentle creature being fed and featured in an underwater fashion shoot with international models.
“This is all very wrong. It is eco-terrorism, not tourism,” said Salceda. “They should be jailed for animal cruelty,” he said.
Ronald Guarin, Oslob mayor, said Salceda just wanted to discredit his town’s tourism campaign because it is doing better than Albay’s and that of Donsol, a town in Sorsogon made famous by whale sharks or butanding.
The mayor said he did not believe that his town violated any environmental laws.
Salceda said he is calling on the Department of Tourism and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to take strong and punitive measures against the Oslob event sponsors, promoters and models.
The governor said the promotion of whale sharks in Oslob only “subtracts rather than adds to our attraction in the long term since it shows we do not know how to take care of nature so travel operators and agencies would expect these ecotourism destinations to deteriorate eventually.”
“Let’s put an end to the whale shark abuse by setting up measures that would protect these creatures,” he said.
The governor said reports of a decline in the number of whale shark sightings in Donsol could be attributed to the decline in the amount of planktons in the town’s waters. With a report from Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas