By Bohol Island News Staff | 12:28 PM December 21, 2019
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Central Visayas clarified on Friday that the whale sharks issue in Lila town should be handled by other agency.
In a news statement, DENR-7 said that Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer Ariel Rica of CENRO Tagbilaran City reiterated that whale sharks are bony fishes which is categorized as an endangered and threatened marine species per CITES and IUCN Red list.
It added that RA 9147 or the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act categorized whale sharks as an endangered marine species under the jurisdiction of the DA-BFAR not the DENR.
The Wildlife Act explicitly provides that only marine turtles (Pawikan) and Dugong (Sea cow) are under the DENR. Thus the lead agency to act on the issue should be the DA-BFAR considering their legal mandate.
However, the DENR, DOT and DILG must jointly assist the former in crafting a sustainable management framework for whale sharks.
Accordingly, there has been a proposed joint Memorandum Circular (DA-BFAR, DILG, DOT and DENR) related to the issue submitted at the Biodiversity Management Bureau for comments and finalization.
Environmental advocates have called on authorities, the Lila Local Government, the Provincial Government in Bohol, Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Tourism, Bureau of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to stop the practice of feeding whale sharks and to stop using the marine creatures as a major tourist attraction.