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May is Ocean Month

| by: Cris Lanie Delos Reyes

As the country celebrates the Month of the Ocean this May, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-7 has arranged activities relevant to the protection and conservation of the diverse coastal and marine resources in the region.

Mario Aragon,  Conservation and Development Division, disclosed the deployment of the autonomous reef monitoring structure (ARMS) this month to Panglao, Bohol during a discussion arranged by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) last May 4.

According to the website of NOAA FISHERIES, ARMS is a device designed to mimic the structural complexity of a coral reef and attracts colonizing invertebrates.

It is created to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, abundance, and community structure of the cryptofaunacommunity or fauna that exist in protected or concealed microhabitats.

On the other hand, the Coastal Law Enforcement Alliance Region 7 (CLEAR-7) will continue to strengthen their seaborne patrol operation especially in the largest protected seascape in the Philippines which is Tañon Strait.

Agencies like the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Philippine National Police (PNP), local government units, and volunteers in collaboration with the provincial government of Cebu through its Cebu Provincial Anti-Illegal Fishing Task Force (CPAIFTF) continue to promote the importance of protecting the seascape.

Tañon Strait Protected Seascape(TSPS) is an important migration corridor founded on 1998.The beauty and bounty of Tañon Strait becomes the home of the essential marine species such as dolphins, whale,whale sharks, among others.

It is also one of the major fishing grounds providing income to the residents around the strait.

Its marine area is 518,112 hectares, a distance of 604 kilometers, and a deepest point of 509 meters.There are seven (7) cities, 12 municipalities and 298 barangays lying in the long stretch of the strait.

Even if it is a protected area, illegal fishing activitiesare still being recorded.  During CLEAR-7’sseaborne operation last year, there were four (4) illegalcases filed., Three (3) out of four (4) are still pending while there is one (1) filed in court already.

This year, 13 million pesos is set aside for seaborne operation and assessment of the locally managed marine protected area or sanctuaries.

“We are thankful because the local government units and its officials are moreaware of the importance of protecting the seascape. They are starting to talk  about it”, said Aragon.

Forester MelchorRhennSarmago of DENR-7 said they are receiving good feedback from the majority of the LGUs. He mentioned the municipalities of Moalboal, Badian, Ginatilan, San Remigio, Aloguinsan, Guihulngan in Samar, among others, which are extending their efforts to conserve and protect the Tañon Strait.

Speakers / panelists during the discussion were Fercival Fiel, Senior Ecosystem Management Specialist (SEMS) and Atty. Steve Larona, Legal Officer of Seascape Tañon Strait Protected (TSPS).