LAPU-LAPU CITY – A total of 41.94 kilos of garbage was collected by various tourism stakeholders during a dive clean-up as part of the 35th International Coastal Clean-up Day last Sept. 18.
The clean-up was led by the Department of Tourism (DOT-7) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-7) with help from the Lapu-Lapu City LGU, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and Crimson Resort.
Lapu-Lapu City councilor Ricardo Amores, representing Mayor Junard Chan, said that with Lapu-Lapu City located in an island and depending much of its natural resources from the seas, taking good care of the environment is of utmost importance. “Preserving our environment is our legacy to our children and to the next generation,” Amores said.
DOT-7 regional director Shalimar Hofer Tamano said it is important to ensure the cleanliness of the coastal waters and dive sites and the protection of the marine ecosystem.
“Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor or the Central Visayas region is a marine park. To name a few, we have Apo Island, Cabilao, Balicasag, Malapascua, Moalboal, and Mactan as one of the biggest operations and dive spots in the region,” Tamano added.
According to Tamano, Cebu, Bohol, and Apo Island in Negros Oriental have been identified as one of the country’s top diving destinations. Early this month, the Philippines was awarded the Best Overseas Diving Area in the annual Marine Diving Awards in Tokyo, Japan. It was the first time the country was given the prestigious award.
DENR-7 ARD Engr. Trinidad Etulle emphasized the shared responsibility of reversing environmental degradation. “The Philippines is among the top countries with the most volunteers in terms of the yearly International Coastal Clean Up Celebration.”
Etulle said this journey of seeing the seas and ocean clean again is a challenge but he is optimistic that with the shared responsibility and inter-agency coordination, cleaning the environment becomes an easy task.
“Essentially, we need to advance stronger working relationships and improve coordination mechanisms with the local government and other stakeholders in reversing environmental degradation of our water bodies,” Etulle said.
The dive cleanup was led by PCSSD Commissioner Bo Mancao with divers from the Philippine Coast Guard and DENR. Most of the garbage collected were construction materials, glass bottles, fish traps, diapers, discarded ropes, shoes, and plastic bottles.
Mancao said that “we don’t need to wait for agencies and groups to organize a big clean-up event for us to take our part in taking good care of our environment. We can always do it in our own little way. Everyday, whenever we see trash in our surroundings, we should be responsible enough to do our part in preserving and protecting our marine ecosystem.”
Aside from the dive clean-up, the DOT also conducted another edition of its Oplan Islas, a mobile accreditation program partnership among DOT-7, the Philippine Coast Guard, and MARINA that provides a one-stop shop venue for water tourist transport operators, boat men, and dive operators to process documents for registration and accreditation.
In coordination with the Lapu-Lapu City Government, DOT-7 was able to process and accredit 24 water tourist transport operators and eight dive operators that submitted their documents on that day.