I. Norte waters, haven for endangered species: UP Prof.

By Dianne Grace N. Rasquero, PGIN – Communications and Media Office

LAOAG CITY – Dr.  Lemnuel V. Aragones, Associate Professor of UP Diliman’s Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology said that Ilocos Norte’s unique water shores serve as a haven for endangered marine species which are migrating for the warm waters of the Philippine Sea.

As news of the Humpback Whales’ visit to Ilocos Norte particularly Pasaleng, Pagudpud’s waters spread fast, the Tourism office of the provincial government of Ilocos Norte called for a dialogue today with Dr.  Aragones in order to gain his insights and knowledge regarding the visit of the whales.

Dr. Aragones said that the provincial government of Ilocos Norte must be aware of its responsibility in making sure that resources will be utilized properly in protecting the whales thus ensuring benefits for the locals as they prepare for the influx of tourists eager to see the unique phenomenon.

He also discussed the issues on rival claimants of the seashore area saying that the dispute may cause chaos among municipalities claiming for the area occupied by the whales.

“Aside from Pasaleng, a part of Sta. Praxedes, Cagayan also claims. It would be best if they talk among themselves so as to avoid rivalry,” he added.

He suggested that the provincial government, particularly the municipality of Pagudpud should come up with income-generating projects like putting up a hilltop station that can serve as a whale-watching site for tourists.

Aside from that, Dr. Aragones says that the local government can also adopt San Francisco’s California Whale Adventures whale watching trips using binoculars thus freeing the whales from any harm from humans and unnecessary interference as they stay at Pasaleng Bay.

“Of course, you wouldn’t want the people in the place to feel like they have lost their sense of ownership. Give them tasks linked to the possible gimmicks we just mentioned. You wouldn’t want to have local rebels, right?” he added.

Provincial Tourism Officer Ianree Raquel says, “The government is ready to partner and support. And in order to provide a good start for the name of the tourism industry in the locality, we made sure the whales are moved farther into the sea so as to avoid danger, both for the whales and for the residents as well.”

Raquel also added that the visit of Humpback whales can help boost Ilocos Norte’s  tourism industry.

Meanwhile, renowned environmentalist and marine mammal expert A. G. Sano is currently in Ilocos Norte to brief Governor Imee R. Marcos and other LGU officials on marine conservation protocols and possible adoption of a Humpback whale by the provincial government.#