Since it was first detected late in 2019 the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been fast paced and has taken may people, organisations and even governments, by surprise. The efforts to combat the virus have led to responses that, it is safe to say, are truly unprecedented.
Sadly, the beautiful island of Malapascua and the operations of People and the Sea have also been shaken by the seismic disruption that the pandemic is leaving in its wake.
People and the Sea expeditions
As of the 30th March 2020, the Island of Malapascua was officially placed under ‘enhanced community quarantine’. As the name suggests, the movement of people and the conduct of activities on the island is now heavily restricted. This reflects the wider situation in the Philippines as a whole. At the time of writing there is no indication of how long this will be maintained.
Our top priority is always for the welfare of our volunteers and staff. As such, prior to the enforced quarantine on the island, we had already taken the decision to cancel all volunteer activities and repatriate any volunteers on site. Despite the chaotic situation that we were faced with, with countries all over the world closing their borders, we are happy to report that they are all now safely at home.
All People and the Sea volunteer expeditions are currently suspended. We are unable at this time to provide an indication of when we will re-establish full operations on-site and restart expeditions. Any decision to do so will be taken according to relevant government advice, prevailing travel restrictions and an evaluation of our ability to offer a safe, fulfilling volunteer experience.
What does this mean for the future of People and the Sea?
There will always be challenges for any organisation working towards a goal of meaningful marine conservation. But no-one in the field would ever have imagined it would come from such a source.
We established People and the Sea to work alongside and support the community of Malapascua. They have shown themselves to be exceptionally resilient and our resolve to continue to support them both now and into the future is stronger than ever.
While we fully expect that the ongoing pandemic will present challenges for some time to come, we are committed to weathering this storm, and confident in our capacitiy to do so.
Updates from Malapascua
Despite the suspension of volunteer activities our on-site team remains in place and operational. They continue to dedicate themselves in offering support to the local community in this most challenging of times.
It should be remembered that the island of Malapascua is one that relied heavily on tourism, a sector that has arguably suffered more than any other – there are indeed very tough times ahead for the whole of the local community. In light of our commitment to them, it is crucial now more than ever that we continue to engage and collaborate with them to tackle together this unprecedented shock.
17th April 2020