TMO announced new permitting requirements
The Tubbataha Management Office met with representatives of the 11 scuba diving liveaboard companies operating in the park. The annual Dive Operators’ Consultation was held on 4 March 2016. In the meeting, TMO announced some changes on the permitting requirements which will all take effect in 2017.
Tubbataha sets new conservation fee rate
One of the announcements made was the increase on the conservation fee for all visitors of the park. The Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board (TPAMB) increased the conservation fee from P3,000 (US$64) to US$100 pursuant Board Resolution 15-21. The increased fee went through a consultation process with dive operators in 2015 and 2016.
The current conservation fee has been in place since 2005. The 10-year old conservation fee rate was increased to keep up with the inflating cost of managing the park.
PCSSD Accreditation for dive boats now required
In addition to the conservation fee rate, the TPAMB is requiring all commercial dive boats in Tubbataha to be accredited by the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving (PCSSD) of the Department of Tourism prior to the issuance of a Permit to Operate.
PCSSD accreditation of scuba diving establishments is required by the national government under Republic Act 9593 or the Tourism Law of 2009. Its purpose is to regulate and insure the safety of local and foreign divers through the proper regulation and monitoring of the Philippine dive industry.
All information about the application for accreditation is available in the PCSSD website: http://www.divephilippines.com.ph/process-and-requirements/
Water supply: Will there be enough for the summer?
The dive operators also raised their concern on the water situation in Puerto Princesa City, especially with the strongest El Nino event forecast throughout the summer months. Dive operators worried about the expected water shortage as this will affect their operations. Liveaboard dive boats are floating hotels and require water just like land-based hotels.
Engr. Justino Obsanga and Ms. Magdalena Espiritu, representatives from the Puerto Princesa City Water District (PPCWD), assured the operators of adequate water supply this summer. The District can deliver water to dive boats should the supply of the Philippine Ports Authority not suffice, according to Engr. Obsanga and Ms. Espiritu.
The 11 dive companies, who were represented by thirty-four (34) participants, are bringing 14 dive boats this summer. TMO is expecting the number of tourists to increase by up to 35% from last year.
The Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc., is supporting this activity under its five-year partnership with the TMO on ‘Monitoring Climate Change and Developing A Public Constituency that Supports Adaptation: A Private-Public Partnership’.