Marine conservation diving holiday in Malapascua, Philippines

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Marine conservation diving holiday in Malapascua, Philippines

Environment

Our project is not about just about respecting the environment. It is about taking an active role in seeing it conserved for the future.

*Wildlife Conservation*
Malapascua is a well known diving destination. The nearby dive site of Monad Shoal offers unique encounters with thresher sharks. The IUCN Red List classifies this species as ‘vulnerable’ and information about it is scarce. The shoal also attracts other pelagic fish such as Devil Rays and Eagle Rays. And while these are definite highlights, there is plenty more on offer.
But the resulting growth in diving tourism, coupled with ever increasing fishing pressures by the local population have seen deterioration in the health of the marine environment. In a nutshell, this project permits the collection of meaningful data and information that can then allow sustainable management practices to be put in place, and also the means to measure their impact. Without reliable information, it is hard to take action.

*Waste*
Waste is an issue for an island as small as Malapascua (it is only 2 square kilometres). One of our ongoing community engagement programmes takes a hands on approach to tackling this issue through recycling initiatives, the funding of waste removal from the island, and an education campaign.
We ask that all volunteers are very selective in what they bring to the island. All the waste we produce has to be transported back to the mainland at the end of each expedition. We strongly discourage the use of 'throw-away' or 'single-use' plastics.

Community

Critical to the success of our project is the involvement of the local community and ALL relevant stakeholders.

We believe that sustainable marine conservation has to make sense for the local community - 'ownership' is critical. This means the people of Malapascua must believe in any attempt to manage their seas. They must understand the benefits. They must feel and see the benefits. Most importantly, they must contribute directly to any decisions taken.

At all levels of our work, we remain open and transparent about what we do, and what we hope to achieve. We actively seek out and maintain lines of communication with all relevant parties and understand that our job can only be one that facilitates change - the actual decisions belong to the people of Malapascua.

We have received approval for our work from the relevant government bodies in the Philippines. The Department for Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) maintains a nationwide reef monitoring programme, but admits that it suffers from a lack of resources. Our Memorandum of Understanding demonstrates that they welcome the contribution our project makes to protecting Filipino waters. Our work is further endorsed by the Local Government Unit, and the Regional Mayors Office.

We are not alone in working alongside the people of Malapascua to improve their natural environment. We understand the importance of collaborative action and the need for clear communication in working towards common goals. We are proud to work in conjunction with other NGO's who also work with such dedication on the island and the wider region. We are currently investigating the possibility of an 'exchange' programme with another local charity that will broaden our volunteers experience of the Philippines and leave them feeling even more fulfilled.

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