Balicasag Island in Panglao Island Bohol

At the crossroads of a booming tourism industry and the challenge of preserving our world-class dive sites from continued degradation, concerns have been expressed for the well-being of coral reefs that abound in Balicasag Island and other dive locations in the province.

With the steadily growing popularity of Bohol's dive destinations among scuba diving enthusiasts from around the world, our coral reefs are taking so much stress from divers that even dive shop operators fear permanent reef degradation that would eventually destroy everything within our coral reef system in a span of 5 to 10 years.

"Here is a clear and present danger that our very own government authorities, tourism industry stakeholders - including dive operators and resort owners - are very much aware of; yet, nothing has been done about it," a local businessman pointed out during an interview.

CARELESS TOURISM

The urgency of recognizing the fact that coral reefs around Balicasag Island are suffering from great damage mainly due to mass tourism, loose management of coastal development and overfishing have been underscored by no less than the resident manager of the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) Maria Elena Go, herself based on the island.

In an interview, Go said careless tourism has taken its heavy toll on the island of Balicasag, its reef structures and marine life that used to be in abundance.

All sorts of litter brought by tourists, poor diver etiquette and inexperience of divers and dive guides are seen as the main cause of damage to coral reefs and the biodiversity of the area.

Hundreds of divers come to Balicasag every day. In spite of this, the local government and dive operators are not showing genuine concern to make marine protection and the tourism industry compatible. - Rey Anthony Chiu