Mariculture parks propel tourism plansBy Juan Escandor Jr. |Philippine Daily Inquirer
MATNOG, Sorsogon—When tourists began arriving by motorboat to see the coves and islands of Matnog in the San Bernardino Strait in Sorsogon, municipal officials realized that it was time to boost the town’s brand of ecotourism by embarking on fisheries projects.
Live fishes in mariculture areas always draw curious tourists, according to Councilor Christopher Hadap, chair of the municipal council’s committee on fisheries and agriculture.
For instance, Hadap said, the Juag Lagoon became a must-see site for visitors before hopping to the pinkish-white sand of the Subic Beach of Calinataan Island, facing the Pacific Ocean and Samar Island.
“Tourists are always delighted to see and feed groupers swimming inside enclosures with just minimal fees,” he revealed.
For this experience, Matnog, situated more than 600 kilometers south of Manila, is implementing fish production projects in areas declared mariculture parks and dotting the coasts of several islands near the town proper.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has allocated P155,000 for the grouper sea cage project. Under the scheme, each fisherman-beneficiary will be provided with floating cages, fingerlings and feeds.
According to Hadap, the project envisions a regulated production of groupers, “siganid” (taffi or rabbitfish), red snapper and even “bangus” (milkfish) to augment the income of fisherfolk and the ecotourism pull of Matnog.
The mariculture parks are also seen as vehicles to regenerate sea grass beds, the population of sea horses and coral reefs, the councilor said.
MOA on tourism
Last year, a memorandum of agreement was signed between the municipal government and the ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI) to jointly undertake projects to enhance the tourism
sites and activities of the town.
They vowed to promote cleanliness, environmental protection and conservation and local governance to preserve Matnog’s natural resources and scenic spots under the agreement signed on Nov. 15, 2011 by Mayor Emilio G. Ubaldo and AFI managing director Gina Lopez.
Under the deal, Matnog would fund priority ecotourism programs adopted by the AFI and the foundation would “promote and publicize Matnog’s ecotourism and its best practices here and abroad, with an airtime and cost production worth P5,500,000.”
PHOTOS BY JUAN ESCANDOR JR.