October 17, 2012  |  off

Hi All,

Yesterday morning I spoke with Dencio Catienza He is one of the owners of Planet
Dive, the resort that is in front of Twin Rocks Marine Sanctuary. He said he had
just come out of the water (around 9 am), and had not seen any jacks at the sanctuary.
I called him again yesterday afternoon, and he told me that he still had no luck
sighting any jacks. He did three dives on October 13, and three on October 14.

Yesterday morning, Iggy spoke with Gerard, a divemaster at Planet dive. Gerard said
that what he knew was that 60-100 kilos of fish were taken. So we hope that for
the jacks of Twin Rocks, all is not lost. Gerard said that the total number of jacks
there is around 6000 kilos.

During the course of the day, I learned that it was the fishing community on the
same shore as Planet Dive, Balanoi, who fished the jacks. They caught them in front
of their town. They are located between Planet dive and Mainit.

Last night, Joey Fullon, another owner of Planet Dive called me and we talked about
the jacks. He said that the community in Balanoi did not do anything illegal. If
there is indeed a fish spill-over from a sanctuary, then the fish outside a sanctuary
can legally be fished in Anilao. Joey also said that Planet Dive Resort works closely
with that community in Balanoi, and that the community understands that the purpose
of the marine sanctuary is to create more bounty for all. The community of Balanoi
also supplies this particular resort with essentials. For a long time, there has
been a relationship and an exchange of education between them.

Another comment from Joey Fullon is this: The community of Balanoi was within their
rights to catch the fish in front of their town. On the other hand, no one polices
how many divers can dive Twin Rocks at the same time. Planet Dive does not shoo
away divers. What would divers from other resorts would say if they did? Joey says
that on any given weekend for most of the day, there are always eight boats above
Twin Rocks.

Apparently there is supposed to be a limit of twenty divers at a time. How many
of us divers know this? I was unaware of this. I also wonder if Twin Rocks will
ever be shut down to rest, like Tingloy? Certainly a dive site can get stressed.
Joey says that the fish sometimes leave because of there are too many divers in
the water.

Lory Tan said to me yesterday that if the jacks spill out of Twin Rocks, it probably
means that they are a big enough aggregation to need to leave the sanctuary to get

There must be many reasons for this fish school to swim out of the sanctuary; after
all they are wild animals who probably need a bigger area as territory.

My husband Iggy’s question is this: If the relationship between the fishing community
and Planet Dive is so good, why did they still knowingly catch the fish? Joey says
they did it because it is their right to catch spillover.

When I researched sanctuary rules for Anilao last year, I was under the mistaken
impression that marine sanctuary spillovers in Anilao could be fished only with
lines, or with large-hole nets, and not fine mesh ones. The ones they used on October
13 2012 in Balanoi town had 2-inch in diameter holes. I thought that “No Commercial
Fishing” in Anilao meant line-fishing only, or big-hole (4-inch in diameter) nets
only. I mistakenly thought fishing in Anilao was for subsistence only, and not for
business. I was also under the mistaken impression that all dive sites are sanctuaries.
In October 2011, Iggy and I were at Bahura where we saw a fishing boat with fine
mesh nets fishing a large number of queen triggers from the dive site. We were surprised,
and asked them why they were fishing there. They told us it wasn’t illegal. So we
proceeded to Curby’s where we could see the Bantay Dagat boat hanging around the
dive boats there. The Bantay Diver (eheheh, Dagat) told us that the fishing was
not illegal.

So as divers, should we educate ourselves on Anilao’s rules? Should we also make
ourselves aware of how the communities make money from the resorts? Is it only through
dive passes? Does money and resources from tourists really get to the people? Maybe
we need to make it our business to know these things if we dive there. I don’t think
there is anything wrong with increasing the dive pass fee, IF the money is going
to the people of Anilao.

For whatever reason the fish left the sanctuary, those that are caught are gone
forever. In the next few days, we shall see if some jacks come back. I was told
by Joey that when there is a big tuna in the sanctuary, the fish do hide. I hope
that they are just hiding.

Best to all,


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