Tañon Strait, a 161-kilometer strip that separates the islands of Cebu and Negros, is celebrating nearly two decades as a protected area.
It is incredibly rich in biodiversity – hosting 62 percent of the country’s coral species, plus 14 species of whales and dolphins.
Declared as the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape on May 27, 1998, the area provides seafood and jobs for 42 towns, cities and municipalities.
Figures released by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Region 7 showed increased fish landings since 2014.
Marine conservation non-profit groups Oceana Philippines and Rare Philippines are working hand-in-hand with the government plus local fisheries champions to end illegal commercial fishing in the strait and ensure effective conservation and sustainable fisheries management for this part of the Coral Triangle.
Vessel-monitoring measures are being pilot tested and local enforcers are being empowered.
“Stronger law enforcement is a necessary tool to deter illegal fishing. We commend the Province of Cebu under the leadership of Gov. Hilario Davide 3rd for providing this much-needed incentive system to strengthen the resolve of those who protect our seas by empowering our Bantay Dagat, the local guardians of our oceans,” Oceana Philippines vice president Gloria Estenzo Ramos said.
Concerted efforts of government agencies, civil society and local champions are essential to protect the Tañon Strait and ensure that it brings life and livelihoods to millions of people.