Boracay underwater cleanup kicks off

Nony Basco, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 22 2018 11:02 AM | Updated as of Apr 22 2018 11:14 AM

MALAY, Aklan - Divers on Sunday launched an underwater and coral reef cleanup in Boracay island here in time for the celebration of Earth Day.

The activity comes ahead of Boracay's 6-month closure to tourists starting April 26 meant to make way for the set up of sewage facilities and the demolition of illegal structures.

Divers collected non-biodegradable materials from the coast off Boracay's Coral Garden in station 1, Angol Point in station 2, and Tambisaan Point on the east coast.

Buoys will also be installed in the 3 areas, which are known snorkeling and diving zones, to mark them as protected sites.

"Gusto nating ipakita na yung presence ng malinis na ocean kailangan talaga sa development ng isang island," said Jessie Vego, assistant regional director for technical services of the environment department.

(We want to show that the presence of a clean ocean is vital to the development of an island.)

Environment officials also continued pre-rehabilitation activities on the island, including the marking and serving of final notices to establishments that violated regulations.

A cruise ship meanwhile docked in the island carrying thousands of tourists who are mostly Chinese.

The ship Costa Atlantica will be the last to visit Boracay before its closure.

Businesses in the area, which earlier lobbied for a phased rehabilitation, have warned that an abrupt shutdown could lead to bankruptcies and job losses for many of the island's 17,000 hotel, restaurant and other tourism workers, plus some 11,000 construction workers.

The island drew 2 million visitors last year, earning the country more than a billion dollars in tourism revenues, according to official data.

The Duterte administration maintains it is legal for it to deploy police and bar tourists from the island.

With a report from Agence France-Presse