The Province of Palawan is called “The Most Beautiful Island in the World” by the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards. Furthermore, according to Conde Nast Traveler editor Cynthia Drescher, “Palawan is home to nature reserves on both land and sea, with dolphins just offshore, marine gardens of giant clam, sea turtles nesting on white sand beaches, 600 species of butterflies, and lush palm forest like a Gilligan’s Island fever dream.”
However, major environmental concerns were raised from Palawan following the alarming announcement of the parent company of Nickelodeon, Viacom International Media Networks. The company actively voiced its vision for a water theme park in Palawan with its development company, Coral World Park Undersea Resort Inc., where visitors would be able to “interact with the brand and the iconic characters they love”.
Nickelodeon has been pushing approval to build the water theme park and has recently received approval just last month. The talks of the project has alarmed many citizens and environmentalists because the development of the theme park would inevitably cause detrimental effects on aquatic life. However, when Viacom Networks initially introduced its project, they stated their advocacy for ocean protection, contrary to the facts that were revealed shortly after.
Backlash from citizens and concerns from environmentalists were inevitably raised. The most prominent opposition of the environmental groups was manifested in an online campaign. The campaign was started and led by Save the Philippines Seas Executive Director and Co-Founder Anna Oposa. As of July 2, 2017, the campaign has garnered a whooping 262,466 signatures out of their target 300,000. The campaign criticizes Nickelodeon, pointing out that the company is “setting a terrible example to the younger generation by taking away their right to enjoy [the earth’s] natural resources”.
Another environmental group, the Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc., criticizes that the theme park will have “potential effects on the coastal and marine biodiversity in and around the proposed site”. The foundation further voiced their concern by stating that “the project may also alter the water movement around the area”, significantly impacting “the behavior of some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems”. The environmental group lastly comments that the proposed project “will affect how corals settle and build a reef thereby threatening tens of thousands of marine species sheltered by corals”, as well as other biodiversity.
Despite the growing opposition of citizens and environmentalists, Nickelodeon is pushing forward with their Palawan plans. More news coverage and opposition must be met in order to stop the destruction of the world’s most beautiful island and its biodiversity.