At a press event held at a Navy vessel in Dumaguete City, Tañon Strait Protected Area Superintendent (PASU) Prospero ‘Am’ Lendio reiterated that commercial fishing is not allowed in the Tañon Strait, one of the Philippines’ largest marine protected areas.
November 15 marks the onset of the closed fishing season for the Visayan Sea for sardines, herring and mackerel. Leading this is the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), as an intervention to better manage the country’s fisheries resources. BFAR and other stakeholders gathered in Daanbantayan in Cebu and Sagay in Negros Occidental to send-off new patrol vessels to enforce the ban in the area.
Owing to the proximity of the Visayan Sea to the Tañon Strait however, fishing vessels have been known to enter the northern part of the protected area to fish.
“The Protected Area Office, in partnership with other agencies, have stepped up its enforcement efforts to ensure that the Tañon Strait will not suffer from the threats of illegal commercial fishing during the closed season in the Visayan Sea,” says Lendio. “We are guarding both the northern and southern entrances to the Tañon Strait to demonstrate that commercial fishing is not welcome here.”
Aside from the Navy, the Philippine Coast Guard, BFAR and other allies have sent more vessels to augment patrol activities in the southern portion of the Tañon Strait.
The Protected Area Management Board Executive Committee recently authorized the Protected Area Office to draft the implementing mechanism for the onboarding of Vessel Monitoring Measures (VMM) on commercial fishing vessels docking and transiting in the Tañon Strait.
This would help enforcers effectively track the movement and behavior of commercial fishing vessels within the protected area. “We commend the efforts of the Protected Area Office and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Region-7 and key enforcement agencies for their unwavering efforts to protect and conserve the Tañon Strait,” states Oceana Philippines Vice-president Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos.
“Fisheries enforcement is serious business, especially since our next generations depend so much on how well we protect our fisheries today. We are highly encouraged seeing the positive outcomes of almost three years of Oceana’s collaboration with partner government agencies and NGOs. With the recent designation of a special prosecutor for the Tañon Strait, we’re hopeful that violations will be dealt with properly. Together with our allies, we aim to ensure that our efforts to implement both protected area laws and fisheries laws are sustained.”