First summit for the protection of Tañon Strait held in Cebu

After 17 long years since former President Fidel V. Ramos declared Tañon Strait a protected marine area, the 1st Tañon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS) Stakeholders Summit and General Assembly was pushed through last week.

The three-day summit was titled “Restoring the Beauty and Bounty of  Tañon Strait.”

Gathering the stakeholders, management boards and the concerned agencies who are involved in the Tañon Strait Commission is a very challenging move.

The large number of those who are part of the assembly was one of the problems organizers face when they hold a seminar or a meeting. However, OCEANA Philippines and RARE Philippines in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ( DENR) made the event possible.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), local government units (LGUs) and the Cebu Provincial Government, with the academe and some environmental advocates were also at the sidelines supporting the assembly.

Mayors and barangay captains who are stakeholders are those who came from the cities or municiplaities and barangays that are situated in the coastal areas in the Tañon Strait. There were 42 local government units involved in the assembly. The strait lies between Negros and Cebu.

The participants discussed essential matters about law enforcement, promotion of biodiversity-friendly practices or eco-tourism, demarcation of boundaries, responsible management zoning and strengthening government systems and partnerships, specifically with the involvement of the local government units.

Dr. Mundita Lim of DENR pointed out that these actions could be consider as effective strategies for the management of the protected areas.

Commitment from the stakeholders and concerned organizations is needed to come up with a management plan for the protected seascape.

“The summit should give realization on how responsible the people should be as stewards of the nature’s gift and bounty. I will do what I can to fulfill the charter of governance in connection with this. For the fullest measure of commitment in protecting and saving a body of water that is one of the richest fishing ground and the biggest protected area in the country, this gathering is a meaningful act,” said Atty. Czareem Joseph Estella, head of Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO).