LEGAZPI CITY -– A proactive Mayor Noel E. Rosal here early this week ordered the city’s Integrated Coastal Resource Management Unit to fully secure the coastal water channel where whale sharks currently inhabit.
“We want Poliqui Bay conserved by way of protecting it from illegal fishing activities, water pollution and other wrongdoings that could negatively affect its being the feeding area of whale sharks now inhabiting our waters,” Rosal said.
Poliqui Bay is host to several river channels draining into Albay Gulf and plankton develop at the mouth of these rivers.
Its seabed is rich in sea grass while the shoreline teems with mangroves, making it a habitat for various marine species.
Rosasl noted that in Poliqui Bay there are fishing installations like cages encroaching reefs and coral colony patches that need to be dismantled in favor of the area’s fragile marine ecosystem.
The installations offer obstacles to the movement of whale sharks that is why the coastal resource unit is under instructions to apply an iron hand in its enforcement of marine, fishery and environmental laws against illegal and non-tolerable activities, he said.
The city mayor has deployed a detachment along the Bay for monitoring, enforcement and rescue operations manned 24/7 and equipped with two fast crafts.
Rosal has also reiterated his instruction to the coastal management unit to strictly implement the interaction guidelines he issued in the wake of the arrival of a pod of whale sharks in the area.
The guidelines carry a “Code of Conduct” in dealing with the enormous sea mammals that, since its first public appearance near the waterfront of Embarcadero de Legazpi adjoining the city harbor last Feb. 10, have been continuously hanging around nearby sites along the Legazpi Boulevard.
“First, do not touch or ride on the whale shark nor restrict its movement or impede its natural path. The recommended distance from the animals that divers should maintain is three meters from its tail,” the city mayor said.
While whale sharks are passive creatures, they can be agitated by any form of aggression.
Other acts forbidden during interactions included underwater flash photography. Also prohibited are the use of scuba, scooters, jet ski or any motorized underwater propulsion.
Thousands of divers seek out this opportunity and this Code of Conduct guides them how, for their own safety and that of the whale sharks, locally called butandings, he said. (from the PNA report by Danny O. Calleja)