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Submarine tour gets OK as fine is imposed

/ 10:56 PM June 07, 2013

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu—The city government has decided to allow an underwater tour operator to resume using the submarine that has been tagged as culprit in the damage found on coral reefs where the vessel operates.

Mayor Paz Radaza announced on Wednesday the temporary lifting of the cease and desist order issued against the Cebu Yellow Submarine and Undersea Tour Group for damaging coral walls in the waters off Mactan Island.

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“They will be closely monitored by the city government,” Radaza said.

Radaza said the tour firm will also spend for the rehabilitation of the damaged coral reefs.

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Agnes Escano, Yellow Submarine spokesperson, said the firm welcomes the city government’s decision.

She said the firm will pay P250,000 in fine and bankroll the reef rehabilitation.

Jonjie Gonzales, Radaza’s spokesperson, said the city wants to balance tourism and environmental protection.

“That is why the lifting of the suspension is temporary,” he said.

Radaza suspended the operations of the tour firm on April 29 after a Japanese diver uploaded a video on YouTube showing the submarine scraping a coral wall. The video generated outrage over the operations of the submarine.

A report of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said corals in the sea waters of Mactan have been broken into fragments.

“These are indications that damage to the corals and the coral reef was caused by accidental bumping in the conduct of diving and navigational operation of a small submersible craft named the Yellow Submarine,” said a 10-page report of the DENR.

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The submarine damaged different types of corals, the DENR report said.

“We’re not against ecotourism but we should see to it that it’s responsible ecotourism,” said Isabelo Montejo, DENR Central Visayas chief.

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TAGS: Coral reefs, environment, Lapu-Lapu city, Marine Ecology, Submarine Tour
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