Cebu News

Town mayor calls them ‘parasites’: Kill dolphins, whales

Michael Vencynth H. Braga, May B. Miasco/RHM - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - “Dolphins, whales, sharks are parasites” some of them should be killed.

So said Dumanjug, Cebu Mayor Nelson Gamaliel Garcia while addressing participants of the Tanon Strait Protected Seascape Stakeholders’ Summit in Cebu City yesterday.

Ironically, the summit was supposedly meant environmental to restore the beauty and bounty of Tañon Strait, the largest marine protected area in the Philippines.

But the mayor, whose town is right by the strait, lamented that these marine species have caused waning fish catch and compete with people in their food because they consume at least two tons of fish a day.

He suggested controlling the population of dolphins, whales, and sharks in the strait by killing some of them.

“Imbis ang para sa tawo unta maadto na nila. Di hutdon but kontrolon lang. Kay kung di nimo ma-control ning mga dolphins, shark, and whales, wa nay mahabilin, gagmay na lang ang sa atoa,” he said.

He then cited the situation in some countries like Japan, where slaughtering whales and dolphins are allowed.

“Sa Japan ila man gipamatay ang whales kay naghatag man og low nga catch sa fishermen. Naa gyod silay whale hunters,” he said.

For example, the coastal town of Taiji in Wakayama Perfecture in Japan, known for its traditional whaling, has a hunting season that starts from September to the end of February the next year.

In a September 25, 2014 report, CNN said local fishermen there are allowed by the Wakayama prefectural government to hunt an annual quota of about 2,000 dolphins and porpoises from seven different species.

Most of the dolphins are reportedly butchered for their meat while some are sold alive to aquariums around the world.

The ocean conservation group BlueVoice, on the other hand, reported that the hunting season in Taiji extends even until April for small whales.

Conservationists have been calling for the protection of marine animals like sharks, whales and dolphins since they are reportedly facing threat of extinction.

But Garcia believes otherwise, saying that “in fact, the whale is increasing because nobody is catching them.”

For the conservation organization World Wildlife, marine species like whales play a vital role in the food chain and the balance of marine environment.

In Cebu and Bohol, dolphins and whale sharks have become part of the booming tourism industry.  Pamilacan Island in Bohol and the town of Oslob in Cebu, for instance, are known for their sought-after dolphin watching and whale shark watching, respectively.

Garcia, however, contended that these marine species are not meant for watching and that tourism does not only rely on them.

“Unsa man ang tourism? Gwapo nga waterfalls unya makakaon og nindot nga isda ang mga turista… Parasites gyod na sila (dolphins, whales, and sharks) sa dagat. Moingon kintahay ta nga nindot kaayo kay daghang whales, unya ang mga tawo wa nay gikaon kay gihurot na ang mga isda,” he said.

Garcia’s sentiments aside, lawyer Gloria Ramos said their organization is committed to protect the Tañon Strait.

Ramos is the country’s vice president of Oceana, an international marine conservation organization that was behind yesterday’s summit.

“We are determined. We are willing to take it a day at a time,” she said.

The group’s magazine “Love Letter to TAÑON STRAIT,” the group detailed that Tañon Strait was declared as a protected seascape in 1998, particularly because of the distinction of having 14 species of whales and dolphins that dwell in its deep waters.

Ramos said they are focused on the protection of Tanon Strait, also one of Philippines’ fishing grounds, and are also watchful on the threats of destructive and illegal fishing.

“The fisherfolks don’t have their fish anymore; not just the fisherfolks, it will also affect the rest of us. It is a food security issue,” she said.

“While we are doing our best in terms of conserving and protecting our environment, and yet some government sectors are also saying that we need to have economic development to propel the economic activities in the area,” also said Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-7 Regional Executive Director Isabelo Montejo.

“We will harmonize this and come up with a balanced (assessment) between economic development and environmental protection,” he added.

He also mentioned the need to address stakeholders’ concerns on Tanon Strait so as to come up with a consolidated management plan for the protected seascape.

Ramos said it has taken them 17 years in coming up with the Tañon Strait summit and discuss with stakeholders issues that include governance and effective law enforcement.

“There are also jurisdictions of municipal waters and jurisdictions of local government units; if there would be no delineation then there would be an effect on enforcement,” she said. —(FREEMAN)


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