Gov’t, Nickelodeon urged to stop planned underwater park in Palawan
An environmental group has launched an online campaign calling on the local government of Palawan and children’s television network Nickelodeon to stop the plan to build a 400-hectare underwater theme park in Coron.
Save Philippine Seas executive director Anna Oposa, who created the petition, said building artificial structures underwater will “undeniably damage and disrupt Palawan’s marine ecosystem.”
“Contrary to the press statement that the underwater theme park would “advocate ocean protection,” it will accomplish the exact opposite,” Oposa wrote in the petition.
“If you are sincere and serious about marine conservation, the money allocated for the underwater theme park should be invested in marine protected areas, sustainable livelihoods for local communities, and environmental education programs,” she added.
Nickelodeon, the network behind Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer, said the theme park would feature restaurants and lounges 20 feet below sea level and would give fans a chance to “interact with the brand and the iconic characters they love.” It is set to open in 2020.
In a statement sent to Agence France-Presse, Viacom International Media Networks vice president Ron Johnson said Palawan was chosen as venue of the undersea development because “it is known to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world today.” Palawan has also been repeatedly voted by readers of award-winning US travel magazine Conde Naste Traveler as the best island destination in the world.
Palawan, dubbed as the Philippines’ last frontier, is home to two heritage sites—the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River and the Tubbataha Reefs. It is world-famous for its coastlines and forests, which are among the region’s most diverse.
Oposa criticized Nickelodeon, a children’s network, for “setting a terrible example to the younger generation by taking away their right to enjoy our natural resources.”
“We don’t need an underwater theme park—our underwater life is fascinating, entertaining, and educational in its own,” she added.
As of writing, Save the Philippine Seas’ petition has garnered 70,950 out of the 75,000 signatures it needed. The hashtag #CoronIsNotBikiniBottom was also a top trending topic on Twitter, referring to the fictional underwater city in Spongebob.
Environment Secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez was reported as saying that she would not allow the construction of the theme park if it would damage the environment, particularly the corals. The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development said the project had yet to be approved. RAM
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