Tañon Strait protection to be strengthened to ensure fisheries sustainability
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - December 24, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government is strengthening protection efforts at the Tañon Strait, the country’s biggest marine protected area, to ensure sea safety and fisheries sustainability.

The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) is adding more patrol vessels in the area to fight illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which is the most seriously-perceived threat to the oceans.

“Despite its status as a protected seascape, the Tañon Strait still faces illicit activities, destroying its ecological integrity and depriving fishermen of their rightful catch,” BFAR national director Eduardo Gongona said.

About 288,000 small-scale fishers rely on the area for livelihood, but competition from commercial fishers who illegally enter the Strait, and destructive fishing methods used by small-scale fishers, have led to an overall decline in productivity.

From an average of five kilos of fish per trip, yields have plummeted to two kilos – and many fisherfolk households earn less than P100 on a daily basis.

Non-government organization Oceana Philippines also called for stronger law enforcement to guard the Tañon Strait, as well as the strict compliance with the legal directive to install vessel monitoring measures for fishing transparency and safety-at-sea.

Based on the amended fisheries code, all local commercial fishing vessels must install automated identification system (AIS) and VMM by 2020 to institutionalize measures for sea safety and fisheries transparency in the country.

VMM has been identified as the best method to ensure that fishing vessels operate only in designated zones, enhancing transparency and traceability, through the use of satellites, GSM or radio waves to plot the location and course of vessels.

“The Tañon Strait is an important traditional source of fish for millions of Filipinos. Doing the right thing for Tañon paves the way for the sustainable use and management of our fisheries to address food security concerns,” Oceana Philippines vice president Gloria Ramos said.

Tañon Strait is a critical marine habitat and important migratory path for 14 of the 27 species of whales and dolphins in the Philippines.

It is a rich fishing ground, providing livelihood to thousands of fisherfolk and their families in the 42 coastal cities and municipalities in Cebu and Negros Islands.

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