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Cebu News

Medellin opens doors to eco-tourism

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CEBU, Philippines - With fishing as its main livelihood, the town of Medellin is opening its doors to eco-tourism which it sees as a way to improve the lives of its people.

 “Initially this was started for the people here, but now that it’s picking up, we opened this to all,” said Egyar Armecin of the Medellin’s Fisheries Office.

 Armecin was referring to the town’s Funtastic Hideaway, a beach resort in Barangay Tindog; and the water park in Barangay Gibitngil, which has also become a favorite to SCUBA divers.

 Fr. Tito Soquiño, president of Knight-Stewards of the Sea, Inc. (Seaknights), described Medellin’s coral reefs as “generally okay” and “healthy,” which means these have the potential for eco-tourism.

 Soquiño and his fellow divers from the Seaknights recently made an ocular inspection of Medellin’s top marine protected areas.

 The town has five marine protected areas: the 30-hectare area in Tindog, the 28-hectare area in Barangay Kanhabagatan, the famous Gibitngil marine protected area which is 9.8 hectares, and the ones in barangays Daanlungsod and Kawit, with 47 and 10 hectares, respectively.

 There may not be many fishes, but Soquiño said the several barracudas they saw there may mean that these areas are starting to become healthy fishing grounds.

 He, however, said that vigilance must be implemented, and that the town must also engage the support of the community to ensure that all its efforts will not come to naught.

 Soquiño said Medellin’s goal is also a challenge to the community.

 Fr. Charlie Orobia, also a diver of the Seaknights, said with good visibility and almost no current, the dive sites of Medellin can attract more beginner and advanced divers.

 Armecin revealed that before Ricardo Ramirez, the present mayor, assumed his post in 2007, the seas of Medellin were abused.

 She said dynamite fishing could have destroyed the corals.

 After Ramirez was elected, the municipality employed 15 Bantay Dagat personnel to take turns monitoring the town’s 14 coastal barangays. As to its dive spots, Armecin said the town has not earned from them yet in terms of dive fees. However, they have allowed local fishers to transfer the divers from neighboring areas like Malapascua Island for a fee.

 That way the local fishermen earn from boat rentals, which is a good start, said Armecin.  (FREEMAN)

AFTER RAMIREZ

ARMECIN

BANTAY DAGAT

BARANGAY GIBITNGIL

BARANGAY KANHABAGATAN

BARANGAY TINDOG

CHARLIE OROBIA

MEDELLIN

SEAKNIGHTS

SOQUI

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