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Unify efforts protecting Tañon Strait, group says

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon (The Freeman) - September 22, 2015 - 10:00am

CEBU, Philippines – The fishing ordinances of local government units should be harmonized to make clear the ban of commercial fishing in Tañon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS).

This is one of the recommendations presented by Oceana Philippines during the monthly Kapihan sa Isla. The other recommendations include the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Protected Area Office coordinating with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and other academic institutions to determine the status of fisheries within the protected area.

The group also recommended for DENR-PAO to conduct strait-wide fish catch monitoring to determine the Strait’s carrying capacity for fisheries.

“This should be the basis for a fisheries management plan for the Strait,” said lawyer Edward Lorenzo, policy director of OP.

Oceana said DENR-PAO should also inventory the payaos installed at the protected areas and come up with policies on the regulation, control and use of these fish aggregating devices.

The DENR-PAO should coordinate with vessels that are based within the TSPS, Oceana said, adding, that enforcement of the fishing ban must be strait-wide and in coordination with BFAR and other concerned national government agencies.

In a presentation, Oceana said coastal habitats at the straight are mostly in poor state despite efforts of protection. Fisheries resources are reportedly in a state of heavy exploitation even in the municipal fisheries sector.

The group also found out irresponsible fishing practices such as blasting and cyanide as well as encroachment of commercial fishing operation at the protected area.

In 1998, the 521,018 hectares Tanon Strait Protected Seascape was declared a marine protected area, the largest in the Philippines.

Half of all the species of dolphins in the Philippines are found here, along with other marine mammals.

“Its seas are classified  as municipal waters, as the Strait is only 27 kilometers as its widest, yet, large-scale fishing with the use of active gear persists “ Oceana said.

Aside from this, climate change has also led to fiercer storms that reportedly result in coral rubble and siltation.

More than 1.2 million people depended on Tanon Strait for their livelihood.

The TSPS lies on two major islands, Cebu to the east and Negros to the west. —/JMO (FREEMAN)

ACIRC BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES-PROTECTED AREA OFFICE EDWARD LORENZO OCEANA OCEANA PHILIPPINES PROTECTED STRAIT STRAIT PROTECTED SEASCAPE TANON STRAIT TANON STRAIT PROTECTED SEASCAPE
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