Divers call for stricter underwater photography rules

MANILA -- Divers are calling for stricter regulations in underwater photography practices, especially during competitions and shootouts, to ensure that underwater activities have minimal impact on marine life. 

With the increasing awareness for environmental conservation, countries, such as Thailand, have implemented stricter regulations to protect marine life and penalise tourists who disturb wildlife.

Stricter rules and guidelines were enforced this year at the 4th Anilao Underwater Shootout recently held in Mabini, Batangas. This is an annual underwater photo competition sponsored by the Department of Tourism in cooperation with resort owners, dive operators, dive masters, and local Anilao stakeholders

This year's shootout, which was hosted by the Acacia Resort and Dive Center, encouraged responsible underwater photography, while at the same time discouraging manipulation. 

This is the reason, for example, why categories that are prone to manipulation were removed, according to Oliver Ang of Acacia Resort. In previous shootouts, some participants have raised concerns about handling, manipulating or even moving critters. 

There is a growing movement for ethical and responsible underwater photography and diving to ensure that corals and other marine life are not disturbed or harmed by divers. These include minimizing the number of shots of a particular subject or not using underwater strobes/flash, good buoyancy control and discouraging the use of tank bangers as prods or to manipulate nudibranchs or shrimps to "pose" for the camera. 

It is also a conscious choice of photographers to choose subjects that will not require overturning rocks or using tools for "that perfect shot" of a particular critter. 

The Philippines is blessed with a diverse and rich marine life which provides sustenance as well as revenues from tourism. 

Philippine waters are teeming with life and photography subjects can range from rare and endangered marine life such as green sea turtles to the smallest macro subjects such as tiny shrimps and nudibranchs. 

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