The Provincial Government of Bohol (PGBh) recently met with the officials of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to discuss the ongoing challenges faced by Balicasag Island in Panglao.
Balicasag Island is a popular destination for tourists who want to experience the rich marine biodiversity of Bohol. The island is home to various coral reefs, fish species, sea turtles, and dolphins. However, the island is also facing threats from illegal fishing, pollution, and overdevelopment.
As a UNESCO Global Geopark Island Province, Bohol is committed to preserving its natural resources while simultaneously promoting sustainable tourism in the province as mandated in the Strategic Change Agenda. The agenda is a comprehensive plan that outlines the vision, mission, goals, strategies, and programs of the PGBh for the next six years.
The meeting with TIEZA and PCG aimed to address the issues and concerns of the local stakeholders, such as the barangay officials, the resort owners, the tour operators, and the residents of Balicasag Island. It also sought to identify the roles and responsibilities of each agency in ensuring the protection and management of the island.
Some of the agreements reached during the meeting include the following:
– TIEZA will provide technical assistance and funding for the improvement of the island’s infrastructure, such as the water supply, the sewage system, the waste management, and the docking facilities.
– PCG will deploy personnel and equipment to monitor and enforce the maritime laws and regulations, such as the ban on illegal fishing, the proper use of life vests, and the carrying capacity of boats and visitors.
– PGBh will coordinate with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Tourism (DOT) to implement the environmental and tourism policies and standards, such as the establishment of marine protected areas, the collection of environmental fees, and the accreditation of tourism establishments and services.
– The local stakeholders will participate in the planning and decision-making processes, as well as comply with the rules and regulations set by the authorities.
Governor Aris Aumentado expressed his gratitude to TIEZA and PCG for their support and cooperation. He also urged the local stakeholders to work together and take ownership of the island’s conservation and development. He said that Balicasag Island is not only a source of income and livelihood, but also a treasure and a legacy that must be preserved for the future generations.