Ecotourism body says algal bloom in Boracay “a blessing”

  • March 17, 2017
  • Elsa S. Subong

ILOILO CITY, 17 March (PIA)—The reported algal bloom in Boracay is a blessing, not a curse to the tourism industry said the Regional Ecotourism Committee.
The REC had its first quarter meeting, March 16 to tackle the algal bloom “phenomenon” among its agenda, presided by the chair, DENR-6 Director Jim Sampulna.
Department of Tourism-6 Director Atty. Helen Catalbas, former chair of the REC, said that algae is a blessing because it contributes to the making of Boracay sands white and cool, where one can walk even under the scorching sun.
In a study presented by Dr. Vilma Limates, chief, Management Services of PENRO-Guimaras, algal bloom is a seasonal appearance at the beaches of Boracay, particularly in February to June.
“Algae grow with the excess supply of nitrates and phosphates which trigger its emergence,” Limates said.
“This excess may create some ecological problems so it must be addressed,” Limates said.
While the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau is working on the problem, Director Catalbas said that Boracay waters are still safe, based on the February 2017 water quality assessment of the EMB itself.
According to Arjunn Calvo, Chief, EMB Planning and Programming Division, said the long beach areas of Boracay and of all the stations, have not exceeded the normal levels for identified pollutants and water quality has excellently improved.
“We are firm on our stand as a body that algal bloom in Boracay is a blessing, not a curse, because when contained properly, the presence of algae keeps making Boracay what it is,” Catalbas said, adding that DENR should be updating its study on algal bloom and the situation of pollutants in the resort.
“The results of your study will be my documents in discussing with the stakeholders there, in campaigning for saving Boracay from greedy practices, hence prevent ecological imbalance.” Catalbas said.
She further said that to her observation, it is not necessarily the tourists that pollute Boracay but the greed of some establishments which make money at all costs.
Director Jim Sampulna said that DENR-EMB is doing something to address the issue on algal bloom and other pollution issues which include lack of water treatment facility, illegal structures on natural floodway, surface runoff of organic waste and illegal reclamation of wetlands and mangroves, among others.
DENR-EMB Director Livino Duran said that algal bloom is part of nature, not an indicator of polluted water, as per their study, there was no significant increase in volume if the species,
“When these algae could have been collected and allowed to dry in the sun, they could have been useful for Boracay sands,” Duran said.
The REC in that meeting has approved for endorsement and resolutions the conduct of updated study on Boracay water quality and the algal bloom and the timberlands/forest areas of Sicogon Island to be proclaimed as protected area.
Meanwhile Director Catalbas said that legislation and regulations are needed to boost ecotourism and it is the mandate of the DENR and the local government units to come up with them.
“It is so easy to promote our ecotourism areas if legislations are in place, adherent to nationally and internationally accepted laws,” Catalbas said.  (JCM/ESS/PIA-Iloilo)

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