Tanon Strait clownfish
Clownfish in their host anemone among the staghorn corals of Apo Island, located south of the Tañon Strait.
(Photo: © Steve De Neef)

Last year, I announced that Bloomberg Philanthropies Vibrant Ocean Initiative paved the way for Oceana to rebuild ocean abundance in the Philippines, Brazil and Chile. Now, I am pleased to report that Oceana is making progress in the Philippines on restoring the nation’s fisheries and supporting Oceana’s initiative to save the oceans and feed the world.

In February, Oceana kicked-off our campaign in the Philippines to stop illegal fishing with a truly historic move. Oceana successfully pushed for the convening of the 350-member Tañon Strait Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) for the first time ever — a board that has existed on paper since 1998, but has never officially met because of its sheer size and conflicts among national agencies and local government units.

The Tañon Strait is one of the Philippines’ richest fishing grounds and a priority conservation area for reef fishes and cetaceans. Its diverse marine habitat —  26 species of mangroves, seven species of seagrass and 18,830 hectares of coral reef representing 15 families — act as nurseries and critical feeding grounds for young marine life. Additionally, researchers have identified 70 species of fish, 20 species of crustaceans and many unique marine mammals in the area, like dugongs and dwarf sperm whales — and 14 species of dolphins and whales out of the 27 species found in the entire Philippines area in the Tañon Strait. Bordering 420 miles of coastline in three provinces, it’s also the largest marine protected area in the Philippines.

Issues, however, such as illegal fishing, the use of destructive and indiscriminant fishing gear, pollution and climate change all threaten this unique region, as discussed in a new report Oceana launched alongside the summit, “Love Letter to Tañon Strait.”

This summit gathered hundreds of PAMB members, conservationists and other stakeholders to discuss bold and important initial actions — including how to address illegal fishing — for ensuring that the Tañon Strait is properly managed. With an estimated 1.3 million small-scale fishermen in the Philippines and another 8 million Filipinos depending on healthy oceans for their livelihoods, this summit marked a critical step for sustaining these fisheries now and for generations to come.

I look forward to writing you with more updates on Oceana in the Philippines’ work in the coming months.

For the oceans,

Andy Sharpless

Chief Executive Officer 

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