Environment Secretary Regina Lopez said Wednesday she will oppose Nickelodeon’s plan to build a 100-hectare underwater theme park in Palawan.
“Lopez says she won’t allow the underwater theme park in Palawan,” the Environment Department said in a tweet.
Lopez made the statement after Viacom International Media Networks’ global kids brand Nickelodeon announced its plan to collaborate with Coral World Park Undersea Resorts Inc. for the development of a Nickelodeon resort and attraction in the Philippines.
The company said its first resort in Southeast Asia would cover 70 hectares for the resort’s accommodation and 30 hectares for the themed attraction.
Lopez told broadcast network ABS-CBN Corp. which her family controls that she would never allow the corals to be harmed. “You can’t kill the corals for a theme park, no way,” she said.
The planned Nickelodeon resort will be a part of Coral World Park, a 400-hectare undersea-themed masterplanned development in Coron, Palawan.
Viacom said in a statement the resort would open in 2020 and feature restaurants and lounges six metes below sea level. The development would “advocate ocean protection,” the statement said.
The project will be located amid a cluster of 16 white-sand islands of the CWP. The company said with a distance of 5 to 20 minutes apart by speedboat, visitors could expect a multi-island experience within CWP that would include island hopping, hidden lagoons, hot springs, an animal reserve and world-class diving amidst shipwrecks.
It said when completed, CWP would be the largest coral reef conservation program in Asia, with Asia’s largest marine sanctuary for five key species – dolphins, sea cows, sea horses, turtles and whale sharks.
The Ocean Protection program is jointly funded by Monaco-based Dr. AB Moñozca Foundation and its CWP Trust, and supported by global personalities advocating awareness on climate change.
CWP will open in phases starting 2018 and is within a three to six hour radius to major cities within Asia.
Environment groups, however, strongly opposed the development of the theme park. Oceana Philippines vice president Gloria Estenzo Ramos said “the proposed plan is unsustainable and will irreparably damage the marine ecosystems and displace our artisanal fisherfolk.”
“I’m wondering if a thorough environmental and social impact assessment has been done for such an environmentally critical area,” Ramos said.
“No place seems to be sacred for development projects nowadays,” said Ramos.
Oceana is one of the largest international organizations dedicated solely to ocean conservation.
The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, a government body, said the project had yet to be approved. (A.L.E. Gonzalez, MS)