Tañon Strait development masterplan signed

The government is drafting the blueprint for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development of the 310,800-hectare Tañon Strait marine protected area, spanning Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, and Cebu provinces.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), signed Thursday a memorandum of understanding and cooperation with international policy research organization Rare, Inc. to formulate a masterplan that would ensure local fishermen employ sustainable fishing practices within the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS). The agreement was led by PAWB Director Dr. Theresa Mundita Lim and Rare president and chief executive officer Brett Scott Jenks.

Under the agreement, Lim explained that DENR and Rare will identify common areas of interests and cooperation acceptable to all stakeholders, focusing on issues surrounding access to and control over resources within the TSPS. She said the signing comes at an opportune time as the output of the undertaking will form part of a single document called “Strengthening the Marine Protected Area to Conserve Marine Key Biodiversity Areas” to be submitted to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) within the year.

“Livelihood dependence on coastal resources, particularly on fisheries, reflects a significant portion of the socioeconomic scenario that affects public support and compliance for conservation policies and initiatives in the TSPS,” Lim said. “In real terms, the plan intends to support the social and economic needs of the communities involved, improve TSPS’s marine biodiversity and also to provide economic opportunity,” she added.

The Global Environment Facility has committed funding support worth US$8 million in the next four years for the implementation of conservation activities in five of the country’s important marine spots, namely: TSPS, Verde Island Passage, Davao Gulf, Surigao Bay, and Palawan. 

“Given its wide coverage, the establishment of the Tañon Strait as a marine protected area in 1998 has opened up alliances, both at the national and local levels, that have placed stakeholders on the opposite sides of issues concerning conservation, utilization and development of the area’s resources,” Lim explained. She said the blueprint will be completed by October this year.

Tañon Strait was declared a protected area under the National Integrated Protected Areas Systems Act of 1992 under Presidential Proclamation No. 1234 on May 27, 1998, declaring it as a protected seascape in recognition of its extraordinary abundance and diverse assemblage of dolphins, whales and other marine species. The strait connects the Visayan Sea to the Bohol Sea and has a total coastline of 452.7 kilometers. It is bounded by 36 coastal municipalities in Cebu, Negros Occidental, and Negros Oriental.  

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