Tubbataha Management Office (TMO) held its annual Dive Operators’ Consultation on March 2, 2018 at the Legend Hotel Palawan, Puerto Princesa City. In attendance were scuba diving professionals operating in Tubbataha, representatives of the Western Command, Naval Forces West, Philippine Marines and the Philippine Coast Guard. Commodore Dorvin Legaspi, Deputy Commander of the Western Command, gave a brief welcome address at the event.
Research results from 2017 studies were presented. Coral cover increased, fish populations remain healthy, and seabird communities generally enjoy an upward trend. A report on the first-ever Napoleon wrasse assessment in the wild was also presented. Citizen science results, gleaned from reports of wildlife observations by tourists, were also disclosed. It appears that the dive sites Black Rock and Delsan Wreck were the ‘happening’ places last year. Tourism information was also reported. The number of visitors last year was the highest on record at 2618.
The Philippine Navy provided a security briefing, after which the issues and concerns from 2017 and ways forward were also discussed. Also recognized for their support to citizen science were the operators of M/Y Stella Maris and M/Y Flying Dolphin.
The annual consultation aims to gather the private sector partners of TMO, provide updates on the management of the Park, and create a venue in which the various sectors converge to discuss how to better manage the Tubbataha Reefs.