By J. Jala, Helen Castaño | 11:14 AM January 24, 2023
Alburquerque Mayor Don Ritchie Buates will push through with the whale shark watching even if fisherfolk in Loay town opposed the presence of these large creatures, locally known as “tuki-tuki” or “butanding”.
“Yes, padayun gyud atong plano sa tourism activity sa among lungsod sa Albur lakip na ang whale watching sa Barangay Sta. Filomena kay mao nay plano, part sa among tourism plan and approved sa ordinance,” said Buates.
“Nakita ninyo karun unsay gibarugan sulod diri sa atong SP hearing nagpadayun gyud ta kay anang paagiha ma-uplift nato atong panginabuhian sa atong kaigsuonang mananagat sa lungsod sa Albur,” he added.
Buates also denied there was feeding on whale sharks in the seawaters off Alburquerque and Loay.
“Walay feeding kay compliant ta sa balaod,” he said.
The local chief executive met the fisherfolk from Loay who are members of Alegria Sur Fishermen Association (Asfa) during the joint committee meeting on Agriculture and Natural Resources and Environmental Protection on Monday, Jan. 23.
It was presided by Vice Gov. Victor Balite, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture. Some concerned agencies also attended the meeting.
At least 50 fishermen from Loay asked Buates to stop the alleged feeding of whale sharks.
Fishermen said they discovered last year that two unidentified men from Pamilacan Island were feeding the whale sharks with bolinaw (anchovy) on a daily schedule in the protected area.
They are hand-feeding the animals with anchovy to lure the animals to stay in the area.
At least five to eight whale sharks as big as a pumpboat are spotted in the seawaters off between Loay and Alburquerque.
Calino Permoso, president of Asfa, said the presence of whale sharks affected theor livelihood.
There were times that their boats and fishing nets were destroyed by the sea creatures.
The fishermen want to stop feeding the butanding so that it can swim freely in the area they want.
Fishermen added that the whale shark watching in the neighboring town of Lila, at least 6 km from Loay, is enough already for an attraction.
However, some fishermen in Alburquerque who attended the meeting supported the project of Buates.
“Gusto sab namo muasenso ang among lungsod ug kami nga mga mangingisda,” said fisherman Reynante Asingua.
Another meeting will be called according to Balite.
According to World Wild Life, whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are the largest shark, and indeed largest of any fishes alive today. They feed on plankton and travel large distances to find enough food to sustain their huge size, and to reproduce.
Whale sharks are protected from fishing in many countries these days, but are in decline in some areas.