First Tañon Strait summit set
(The Freeman) - February 4, 2015 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - After 17 years since the declaration of the Tañon Strait as a protected seascape, the first ever summit will be held in Cebu City on February 10 to 12.

The Tañon Strait Protected Seascape management board, members of the Protected Area Management Board  civil society and stakeholders will meet for the first time to discuss issues regarding Tañon Strait.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which chairs the PAMB, signed a memorandum of agreement with the marine conservation, Oceana Philippines, and RARE last January 15, 2015 as partners in organizing the general meeting.

With more than 350 members, the Tañon Strait PAMB has never held a general assembly due to its sheer size as well as the conflicts between national agencies and local government units regarding jurisdiction and overlapping functions, said Protected Area Supervisor Viernov Grefalde in a statement.

"Convening the PAMB and holding the stakeholders' summit are bold, big and essential first steps to ensure governance in TSPS that is participatory, transparent, accountable, predictable and effective," said Oceana Philippines vice president Gloria Estenzo-Ramos.

During the 888 News Forum at Marco Polo Plaza yesterday, Oceana Philippines legal counsel and policy officer, lawyer Edward Lorenzo, announced that former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. will be the keynote speaker during the summit.

They are also inviting mayors and congressmen surrounding the Tañon Strait who play a big role in the sustainable use of the area.

Members of the PAMB include local chief executives of 298 barangays, as well as 42 cities and municipalities.

While a lot of people are dependent on Tañon Strait, Lorenzo said it is partially about marine life and rather mostly about people, food security, fisherfolk dependent on resources, and long-term sustainable use of such resources.

"After the general assembly, we can continue looking at how Tañon Strait can be properly managed for everyone especially those coastal communities who are dependent on the resources of Tañon Strait," Lorenzo said.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-7 director Andres Bojos said he is happy with the holding of the summit as it would resolve the issue on which between BFAR and PAMB would police Tañon Strait.

"I hope productive ang summit, makakita ta maayo nga management plan about Tañon Strait. BFAR is willing to assist whatever capacity to protect 30,000 fishefolks," Bojos said.

Known as one of the ten richest fishing grounds in the country, Tañon Strait is a narrow body of water between the island of Cebu and Negros. It covers 521,018 hectares and borders 677 kilometers of coastline in three provinces.

Declared as a protected seascape, the biggest protected area in the country by then President Fidel Ramos on May 27, 1998, Tañon Strait is known as the playground of cetaceans, with at least 14 species of whales and dolphins found in its waters.

Among the tourist attractions in the area are the dolphin-watching tours in Bais Bay, scuba diving in Moalboal, and the white sand beaches of Bantayan Island. — (FREEMAN)

ANDRES BOJOS BAIS BAY BANTAYAN ISLAND BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES CEBU AND NEGROS CEBU CITY CHIEF JUSTICE HILARIO DAVIDE JR. OCEANA PHILIPPINES PLUSMN STRAIT
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