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Groups move to protect Tañon Strait

| by: Cris Lanie Delos Reyes

After the 1st Tañon Strait Protected Seascape Stakeholders Summit last year, the involved parties have met again to tackle interventions, enforcement and assessments regarding the largest protected marine area in the country.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in partnership with Oceana Philippines International, Rare, and the Cebu Provincial Government called for a general assembly attended by almost 200 participants held at the Grand Convention Center, Cebu last Thursday, Mar. 10.

The key stakeholders include all the local government units, their mayors and barangay captains, whose districts are situated in the protected area in the provinces of Cebu and Negros Island.

Campaign

One of the challenges that the government agencies and the non-government organizations need to face is the absence of people’s awareness to the importance in the preservation and protection of the marine area.

The existing problems regarding educational information and social responsibilities remain as obstacles to environmental advocacies.

On the other hand, there is, however, an increase in the number of concerned citizens and organizations fighting for the conservation of Tañon Strait.

Oceana is slowly moving the citizenry to more gainful involvement in researches, decision-making and trainings.

An installation of information campaign materials, creation of social networking sites and publication devoted to the protection of the marine area are being considered as part of their crusade.

Enforcement

Stakeholders are looking for a stronger implementation of law in ocean governance to combat environmental challenges, which destroys marine species and mangroves, such as pollution, unregulated coastal development and illegal fishing, among others.

In a press conference, Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos of Oceana Philippines cited, as a best practice, the undertaking of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that appointed special prosecutors in the prosecution of prohibited acts and violations in the environmentally demanding areas like Tañon Strait.

With the appointment of 10 special prosecutors, Isabelo Montejo, regional director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7, hoped that the additional action of DOJ would decrease the rampant violations in the marine areas.

The special prosecutors are expected to strengthen marine advocacies and quicken investigations as well as the filing of environmental cases.