2nd ‘dry run’ in El Nido lagoons scheduled

Incumbent Mayor Nieves Rosento with ENTMRPA Asst PASu Carolyn Esmenda on personal assist in dryrun of carrying capacity in small and big lagoons (Photo credit: Bella Mutia)

A second “dry run” for controlled visitor entry in the lagoons in Bacuit Bay has been scheduled for the third week of November by interagency officials in El Nido.

The dry run is to assess what else needs to be done before it is implemented.

On November 8, the first rehearsal for the carrying capacity management scheme was in the Big and Small lagoons to see how situations will be

Pablo Cruz, the chief of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and the designated protected area superintendent of the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA), said the next rehearsal will be implemented for two days on November 23-24.

He said the first dry run gave them “good results” that need to be confirmed before the “overcrowding” mitigating measure is fully implemented.

“So far ay maganda naman ang naging resulta. Maayos ang flow nang touring sa loob at nakita na maluwag lalo na sa Big Lagoon noong di muna pinayagang pumasok ang mga bangka,” he said.

Cruz said the subsequent dry run will let them check if they can increase the number of visitors and kayaks entering after taking note that the number they imposed did not overcrowd the lagoons.

He said it was also apparent that the tourists who participated liked the smooth flow that was assisted by the marshalls they posted.

“No problem sa tour boats ‘yong hindi sila pinapasok sa Big Lagoon. Kung meron, konti lang. Naiintindihan naman nila kung bakit ito ginagawa. Dito sa pangalawa, titignan na natin kung puwedeng dagdagan kasi maluwag na maluwag naman bago natin ipatupad para ma-address na ‘yong sinasabing overcrowding,” Cruz added.

Cruz said the only complaint they received was from the tour guides who lost income because they centralized the dispatching of the kayaks and rented them out for only P300 instead of the previous P500.

This move was to avoid confusion and excessive charges imposed on tourists who tour the lagoons, he said.

“Ang nagreklamo lang ‘yong mga tour guides kasi syempre nawalan sila ng kita kasi dati ang renta ay P500 pero ginawa namin na P300. ‘Yong P200 pala doon ay commission nila,” he stated.

The initial dry run only allowed a maximum of 20 visitors and 10 kayaks inside the Small Lagoon for 1.5 to two hours, said ENTMRPA assistant park superintendent Carolyn Esmenda.

Tour boats, on the other hand, were prohibited from entering the Big Lagoon and blocked from anchoring in the immediate area outside.

“Sa Big Lagoon, we made a change… mas na-appreciate natin ang kagandahan ng lagoon kung walang [tour] boats na pumapasok sa loob,” Esmenda said.

Esmenda said the policy on carrying capacity will be positive for the tourism industry of El Nido and its marine environment.

She said Mayor Nieves Rosento, who also joined the dry run, has promised strong support for the eventual implementation of the carrying capacity limit.

“We are happy to take note of Mayor (Nieves) Rosento’s strong support to the implementation of our environmental laws as well as the hands-on guidance we are getting from her and other local government officials,” Esmenda added.

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