THE mayor of Oslob, Cebu, which is starting to be called “whale shark town,” Mayor Ronald Guaren, presented to Gov. Gwen Garcia yesterday a resolution dividing earnings from tourists.
Of the earnings from the whale shark attraction, 60 percent goes to the fishermen, 10 percent to Barangay Tan-awan and 30 percent to the Municipal Government.
At first, no plankton-eating shark, locally known as butanding, showed up yesterday, to the disappointment of television and print reporters.
When Governor Garcia and her son Paolo, who were with the reporters in another boat, were about to leave the area, shouts rang out from other fishermen. A brown shark passed under the pump boat of television and print reporters, then promptly left.
“We are now preparing for the influx of tourists in this small barangay,” Garcia told reporters in Sumilon Island at noon yesterday.
Officials and some members of the media spent the night in Sumilon Island to catch sightings of the shark the next morning.
Garcia said she will meet with Oslob town and barangay officials on Monday in the Capitol to prepare for the arrival of more tourists in the area.
“This is to protect the whale sharks, now numbering 14, the community and the fishermen,” Garcia said.
Guaren told Garcia the barangay now has a briefing area in the shores of Tan-awan to inform guests and tourists of the rules and guidelines before sailing a kilometer off to sea for butanding sightseeing.
Garcia said the fishermen’s association in the barangay regulates the operation of its members. Only six outrigger boats are allowed to operate daily.
The whale sharks in Oslob attracted the attention of local and foreign tourists. The schools of fish are said to have grown in number after tourists started hand-feeding them.