Appeal to the MARINA regarding additional restrictive boat rules for the tourism industry

Appeal to the MARINA regarding additional restrictive boat rules for the tourism industry

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Chester Lee started this petition to Engr Marc Anthony Pascua (Regional Director - Region 7)

Hello Engineer Pascua,

In light of the maritime accident that occurred on Aug 3, 2019 with regards to the 3 passenger ferries that ply the Iloilo-Guimaras crossing tragically resulting in lost of  lives. The MARINA issued a Memo Circular last Aug 14, 2019 with additional restrictions for wooden bancas/pumpboats.  The original intent was to be applied to the passenger ferries ONLY similar to the ones involved in the tragic accident, but then the wording was such that it became applicable to all motorboats including the ones used for the tourism industry like the dive and snorkel operators.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, would like to reach out to our authorities to sensibily apply rules and regulations to us in the tourism industry without comprising safety nor economic viability. 

With this we would like the MARINA to repeal the following:  

1. Motorbancas should carry passengers ONLY UP TO 75% of their authorized capacity

- We understand the need for motorbancas not to be overloaded and as dive resort operators, this is something we are very much aware of as we must also carry tanks and equipment including emergency oxygen and first aid for our guests when conducting a dive trip. This has already be taken into account when the maximum authorized passenger number is given to us by MARINA for each boat during the processing of documents for our boats to make sure they adhere to the licensing rules. Therefore, we are at a greater disadvantage compared to purely passenger ferries when it comes to the amount of guests allowed on a boat

2.  The tarpaulins and canvass shall either be rolled-up or removed

- In our dive/tourist operations, it is not uncommon to have our guest/divers stay out for between 4-8 hours on a boat trip, including waiting on a boat for an hour or so between dives and eating lunch. Our concern with this rule is that without the protection afforded by the tarpaulins against the elements, it will expose guests and staff to a large amount of sun and therefore will increase the chance of sunburn and dehydration which is dangerous enough. Conversely, during the rainy season, they provide shelter from the rain.

As divers we know dehydration particularly is a big risk and health hazard and increase the risk for decompression sickness. We feel that the removal of these simple sun shades could be hazardous to passengers due to the exposure to the elements. 

3. The operation of motorbancas shall be during fair weather only.  Wind not more than Force 3 of the Beuafort scale (7-10 knots) and the wave height is not more than 0.5 meters;

- Our concern here is that the prevailing weather conditions, especially during the amihan season (Nov to May) are normally of similar if not stronger winds and waves. If this rule is implemented fully, on businesses that have been operating safely and successfully in these conditions for years then we would not be able to use boats for a large amount of time during the years. This will have an adverse economic impact, not only on us as operators, but also on the local areas economy with the number of people employed either directly or indirectly in the tourism industry as visitors decide not to come due to not being able to dive or visit Apo Island for example.

We appreciate and support the hard work that PAGASA, Marina and the PCG do in keeping the public safe. But when the gale warnings due to the typhoon were in place, we were not allowed to use our boats even to dive on coastal sites not further than 300m from the shore where the conditions were extremely fair at that time. As PAGASA is based in Manila, sometimes they may not be able to see the local conditions created by the weather and locality so we would very much encourage the ability for the PCG use their judgment in allowing limited diving in such circumstances.

4. The operation will be from sunrise to sunset only;

-Many of the dive operations also include night diving as a way to see some fishes such as the mandarin fish which are only visible at dusk/ night. These fish are not at every site and we need to use boats to go to dive sites which are not accessible from shore to find these. We would request some leniency in the timing of the requirement for when the bancas should be returned to the resort.



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