Government, private firm boost law enforcement in Tañon Strait

FOR nearly two decades since it was declared a protected area, Tañon Strait continues to be the subject of illegal fishing practices that are detrimental to the survival of the rich and diverse marine life that provides food and livelihood to many residents in the Visayas.

Many of the 42 local government units facing the Tañon Strait do not have the resources, like patrol boats, to effectively enforce the law. The Tañon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS) Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) also does not have patrol boats.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources(DENR)-Central Visayas Regional Director Emma Melana said Bantay Dagat personnel were unable to pursue illegal fishermen or conduct patrols to deter commercial fishing boats that are banned from operating in the area. The Bantay Dagat personnel were forced to watch violators from the shore when they were unable to borrow patrol boats from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

Aboitiz Power Corporation, through subsidiary Therma Visayas, Inc., donated last December 22 two patrol boats to the DENR and PAMB in the hope of changing the situation. AboitizPower also donated life vests and other equipment so that the boats can be used for disaster response.

Melana thanked AboitizPower’s efforts to protect the biodiversity of Tañon Strait from destructive fishing practices, among others. She said that the boats will enable the DENR and the PAMB to send a strong message to illegal fishers that government is stepping up its campaign to protect Tañon Strait.

The Tañon Strait, declared a protected seascape in 1998, covers more than 521,000 hectares and borders 677 kilometers of coastline. This narrow body of water between Cebu and Negros is part of the migratory path of whale sharks, dolphins and other marine mammals. It is one of the country’s rich fishing grounds with about 18,830 hectares of coral reefs and 5,000 hectares of mangrove forests

“The boats are part of our efforts to help protect and conserve key biodiversity areas like the Tañon Strait. We will also continue to implement our environmental initiatives in other areas, like our carbon sink management and forest enhancement programs,” said TVI corporate social responsibility manager Edgardo Nicolas.

AboitizPower is building a 340 megawatt baseload power plant in Bato, Toledo City to answer a growing demand for energy in Cebu and the rest of the Visayas.