5 Sep 2017 - The Cebu Provincial Board (PB) in the Philippines is calling for the continuous drive in protecting Tañon Strait against commercial fishing as Oceana reported 30 times the yield in investment.
During its regular session on Monday, the Cebu PB passed a resolution sponsored by board member Thadeo Jovito Ouano requesting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, (DENR) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Central Visayas through the assistance of local government units to continue its drive in protecting Tañon Strait.
“There is a need to intensify the campaign of educating fishermen and conducting operations against violators, so deployment of patrol boats must be done in areas where illegal and destructive fishing is rampant,” Ouano said.
Commercial fishing is restricted in Tañon Strait to protect and conserve marine resources. Any intrusion of commercial fishing vessels at the Tañon Strait Protected System (TSPS) is a common violation, and this problem continues to be a challenge for the DENR.
The DENR said the lack of resources had been a major handicap for them to effectively protect TSPS from commercial fishers, and they do not have enough patrol boats to conduct seaborne operations. They said they are just relying on the patrol boats of the BFAR 7 in Central Visayas.
Ouano said the DENR needs the assistance of the LGUs in protecting the Tañon Strait marine sanctuary, considering their own constituents benefit from the resources, and they are more capable of protecting their own areas.
In fact, some local chief executives in coastal towns in Negros Oriental along Tañon Straits confirmed the benefits they are getting in protecting the area.
“We invested P2 million in fisheries protection. Today, our fishers are catching at least P60 million more seafood every season,” Bindoy Mayor Valente Yap said at the recently concluded Ocean Heroes Assembly.
On August 30 20 coastal heroes were recognized for protecting the waters of the Tañon Strait, a major fishing area that feeds millions of people in the Visayas, in Cebu City. The heroes were invited to share ideas on how best to protect the waters of the Tañon Strait, an area where various non-governmental organizations including Oceana, Rare, Tambuyog and the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation are working to conserve.
Yap added they have eliminated blast fishing within five years, though it took time, but their small steps eventually bore fruits.
“Fishers initially resisted conservation, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Now, they actively protect Bindoy’s municipal waters to continue reaping the benefits brought by healthier and more productive seas,” Yap said.
In Manjuyod town, Mayor Felix Sy reported their fishers can earn over P500,000 just by growing seaweed, proving there are many ways to produce seafood.
Launched in 2016 the Ocean Heroes Awards is a partnership among Oceana, Rare, the Tañon Strait Protected Area Office, the DENR, the BFAR, plus the provincial governments of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental to honor courageous community leaders working to sustainably manage marine ecosystems in the Tañon Strait.
Norlan Pagal, Oliver Dayupay, Veda Raunillo and Roberto Quigay, while Virgilio Aviso, Renato Buenviaje, Jocelyn Moya-Hekrdle and Mariano Sarcol comprised this year’s awardees.
“Most heroes are recognized when they die, but Oceana celebrates those who not just live but actively fight to keep our oceans alive,” 2017 awardee Jocelyn Moya-Hekrdle said.
Illegal and destructive fishing activities, such as illegal commercial fishing, and blast fishing continue to destroy the marine ecosystem in the Visayas, eroding the capacity of reefs to produce food.
“Through strong collaborations, we aim to end illegal fishing within the park,” Tañon Strait Park Superintendent Am Prospero Lendio said.
Tañon Strait is a 161-kilometer strip dividing the provinces of Cebu and Negros Island. The strait is one of the largest and most productive Marine Protected Areas in the country, hosting 63 percent of the country’s coral species and 14 types of whale and dolphin, while providing food and livelihood for 42 towns, cities and municipalities in Cebu, Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental. “Our Ocean Heroes are the vanguards and voices, the protectors of Tañon Strait,” Oceana Vice President Gloria Estenzo-Ramos said.
“By ensuring that its reefs are spared from illegal commercial and small-scale fishing, we can maximize the chances of reefs recovering and fish returning,” she added.