DISCOVER: New Divespot in Mindoro's Calapan Sanctuary
Bernard Supetran | May 16, 2018
The oldest marine protected area city established in 2004, the 37-hectare uninhabited island lies at the northeast portion of Calapan mainland fronting Kamasuhan Rock.
Located well within the Coral Triangle, the center of the world’s marine biodiversity, the island teems with 64% living coral cover (48% hard corals, 14% soft corals, 1% nutrient indicator algae, 1% sponge and 1% others) based on the Vulnerability Assessment conducted on February 2014.
Island hopping and snorkeling tours are currently offered, while scuba diving can be pre-arranged.
Occasional assessment dives are conducted for cleanups and to periodically check on the condition of the corals.
The island is co-managed by the Harka Piloto MPA Management Council, Kabuhayan at Kalikasan para sa Mamamayan ng Barangay Lazareto (Kakambal), Bantay Dagat, Barangay Council of Lazareto, and the Calapan City Fisheries Management Office.
Kakambal, the people’s organization stakeholder, is supported with livelihood assistance as conservation incentive (goat raising)with funding and technical support from Malampaya Foundation Inc., PATH Foundation Philippines Inc., and the City Government of Calapan.
In 2007, Harka Piloto was named finalist in the Para El MAR Most Outstanding MPA Awards, a program of the Marine Protected Areas Support Network (MSN) which recognizes the best practices in the management of MPAs across the country.
The island will complement Calapan’s positioning as an urban eco-tourism destination in Oriental Mindoro with the presence of the Caluangan Lake, the Calapan Recreational and Zoological Park, and the 42-hectare Silonay Mangrove Conservation Area, a joint undertaking with the Provincial Government and the US-based Conservation International.
A major port within the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH), Calapan provides a tourism road link which cuts through the Visayas and Mindanao.