Local Govt's, Universities and fisherfolk and Marine Biological Society

Cebu City, January 15, 2012 - Berto’s impressive size and docility in Oslob coastal waters has drawn a large influx of tourists to one of its small village, Barangay Tan-awan, in just over four months.

In fact it has been reported that those who wanted to see Berto already reached the 1,000-mark last January 8, prompting the Cebu provincial government to immediately instruct the construction of infrastructures such as viewing deck to cater to the needs of the tourists. But Berto is not alone. He is also joined by at least 13 others that consider the area their feeding haven as part of their migratory route (usually travelling over extremely large distances).

Berto is a whaleshark (Rhincodon typus), the largest fish in the world and is listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and legally protected in the country together with other marine species under the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (RA 9147).

Just last week, an ordinance was put in place to protect Berto and 13 others. The Oslob municipal government passed an ordinance detailing regulations of how to interact with them to ensure their well-being.

To feed or not to feed. Berto is presently caught in an on-going debate on whether they should be hand-fed with shrimp or “Uyap” by fisherman who have been accustomed to do so since the 1980’s. While the fisherfolks claim that no detrimental changes in their behavior have been observed and hand-feeding has even been deemed as beneficial by a divers’ organization, the arguments and initial observations of environmentalists and observers that the activity has actually altered the behavior of the animal and could endanger the animal in the long run should be closely looked into.

To the local government, fisherfolk, visiting tourist and all the people concerned.

We the undersigned would like to emphasize that feeding the whaleshark is inappropriate. They are wild animals and can naturally feed themselves. However, we would like to extend professional help by providing technical support and educate the stakeholders the importance of protecting the animals and its environment.

We also ask fellow biologists, marine biologists, naturalists, environmentalists, conservationists and all the people who are concerned in this controversial phenomenon to support us.

Thank you!

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The Feeding Berto the whaleshark is inappropriate petition to Local Govt's, Universities and fisherfolk and Marine Biological Society was written by Whale Shark and is in the category Education at GoPetition.