Bholdex ’23 adopts EUF, ABS, ensures ‘dive site’ protection

By Rey Anthony Chiu | 09:37 PM March 18, 2023

Lest Bohol commits yet another mistake in its guiding policy in environmental sustainability, the upcoming Bohol Dive Loop Expo (Bholdex) 2023 this April puts in place best practices, measures that assure environmental protection and preservation which immerses newly opened dive sites in the towns on a leading edge.

Environmental User’s Fee (EUF), Advance Booking System (ABS), and regular underwater monitoring would be Bholdex’s innovations ensuring that Bohol sustains its world class marine treasures in these new dive sites in at least 12 towns here.

Unlike when Bohol opened its enchanted underwater treasures to divers in the 1980s when it was free for all, the recent advancements in marine environmental sustainability has pushed environmental managers to implement measures for underwater environment protection and conservation, explained Panglao Association of Dive Operators vice president Edgar Baylon, in an interview.

Partnering with PADO, Bohol, which has chosen to take a path to keep its resources at its pristine conditions, looks at the contentious issue of carrying capacity in eco-tourism sites.

“Before we proposed for the opening of the new dive sites in the towns outside Panglao, we conducted underwater assessments, marine stock inventory and use this to calculate for the site’s carrying capacity, which should be strictly followed to minimize the environmental impacts of divers to the sites,” Baylon said during a radio forum aired over PIA Bohol youtube and facebook channels.

Bholdex 2023 is a 16-day dive festival which highlights an underwater photography competition for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) divers category and for free dive category.

Other than that, Bholdex also offers fun dives, information education campaigns, coastal clean ups, lectures and coral transplantation activities, with host LGU activities organized for visiting divers.

It also includes in the dive loop new dive sites identified by organizers after collaborative underwater assessments by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bohol Provincial Environment Management Office (BPEMO) and PADO.

Included in the divers’ itinerary for the festival competition are dive sites in Lila, Dimiao, Valencia, Garcia Hernandez, Jagna, Duero, Guindulman, Anda, Mabini, Ubay and Talibon with Panglao.

These new dive sites are privileged as they open with the right measures, unlike what we did with Panglao when the measures came later, after we realized there have to be regulations in place for environment sustainability, adds Baylon who operates a dive resort in Alona beach front, Panglao’s most famous beach front.

We have the town councils adopting the EUF and ABS as well as the monitoring systems seeing who it worked in Panglao, Baylon shared.

The ABS works in such a way that a diver who books through the Bholdex website, is given a dive site assignment in a specific time and date, to make sure that there is no extra diver in the site which can impact on the area’s carrying capacity.

Meanwhile, the EUF will assure the town that it will have a resource it can use in the future to rehabilitate and improve the dive site or build new facilities as an add-on, he quipped.

“These new dive sites in the towns that we are opening for Bholdex are comparable to the premiere core dive sites in Panglao, Balicasag, Pamilacan, and Cabilao,” Baylon, who has dived the Tubbataha claimed.

Earlier in the interview, he also said Bohol’s dive sites are at par with the Great Barrier Reefs of Australia, a mecca of the world’s SCUBA divers.

But, when other areas are not as keen with the environmental impacts caused by the divers in their waters, Bholdex just doesn’t want this to be happening here, Boholdex organizers shared.

Divers and free divers interested in joining Bholdex have to register at to be assured of slots. (PIA-7/Bohol)

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