Dumanjug Mayor Nelson Garcia made a bold statement during Tañon Strait Protected Seascape Stakeholders’ Summit. The brother of former Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said that whales, dolphins, and sharks are “parasites” that they should be killed. Mayor Garcia wants to regulate the population of whales, dolphins, and sharks in Tanon Strait that is between Cebu and Negros Island. The mayor blames the said sea species for the dwindling fish catch in the area. He said that these marine species consume as much as 2 tons of fish everyday which could have been for humans.
His comments in a summit that supposed to be for the preservation and protection of the area has somehow become the highlight of the event. The articles about his pronouncements were shared by many people in social media.
Mayor Nelson Garcia even made Japan as an example for killing whales and dolphins. The conservation groups countered that sharks, dolphins, and whales are facing the threat of extinction. The mayor was unfazed and he countered that the whales actually thriving in the area and its population is increasing because nobody is catching them. The conversation groups is blaming overfishing main reason why the catch of ordinary fishermen is way lower compared to decades ago.
Mayor Garcia also voiced out about allowing commercial fishing in the area. The Fisheries Code give town mayors the power to allow commercial fishing even in areas that are supposed to be just for municipal fishers. Many rich people in the towns are into commercial fishing and their businesses will be directly affected if Tañon Strait will have tighter rules on fishing.
Whale Sharks and dolphins are the stars of eco-tourism in nearby areas like the town of Oslob but Mayor Garcia insists that these species are not meant for watching. As quoted in a The Freeman article, he said “Unsa man ang tourism? Gwapo nga waterfalls unya makakaon og nindot nga isda ang mga turista… Parasites gyod na sila (dolphins, whales, and sharks) sa dagat. Moingon kintahay ta nga nindot kaayo kay daghang whales, unya ang mga tawo wa nay gikaon kay gihurot na ang mga isda,” (What is tourism? A beautiful waterfalls where tourists can eat delicious fish. We can say that it is nice to have so many whales but then the people will have nothing to eat because the whales ate all the fish in the sea).
Do you agree with the Mayor’s assessment?