The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has scheduled a series of meetings this week to tackle issues and other concerns related to Apo Island, the world-class dive destination in Dauin, Negros Oriental.
Charlie Fabre, provincial DENR officer, said that tomorrow, the agency will spearhead a consultation meeting with stakeholders to discuss the increase in diving fees in Apo Island, which is a protective landscape and seascape.
The hike in dive fees is stipulated in DENR's Department Administrative Order 2016-24, signed by Secretary Regina Lopez in September and which was to take effect immediately.
The order covers mandatory adjustments in park fees, not only in Apo Island but also in other protected areas, whether on land or at sea, across the country, as well as other fees for the use of facilities in these areas.
In Apo Island, the dive fees per visit has been increased from P300 to P800 for Filipinos and from P300 to P1,800 for foreigners.
Dive shop operators, dive enthusiasts and stakeholders in the local diving industry last week sought clarification on the department order and are appealing for a review of the fee adjustments.
DENR director Al Orolfo of the Negros Island Region will attend tomorrow's meeting at a hotel in Dumaguete, Fabre said.
Protected areas in Negros Island that are covered by the department order are Apo Island, the Twin Lakes in Balinsasayao, Sibulan in Negros Oriental, the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park in Canlaon City, and the Tañon Strait which lies between the islands of Cebu and Negros.
Meanwhile, a general management workshop and Protected Area Management Board of Apo Island meeting will be held today and tomorrow and on January 16 at a hotel in Dumaguete City to discuss concerns for the island, Fabre said.
To be tackled are the presentation and approval of the Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape work and financial plan covering January to June this year, presentation of a proposed septage waste management project, revised rates of fees in protected areas as per DAO 2016-24, and a fee system for the glass-bottom boat.
Also to be discussed is the workshop design for the review and revision of the Apo Island's General Management Plan.*PNA
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