First Tañon Strait Summit in CebuNewsroom
It has taken 17 years, and with the concerted efforts of government agencies and civil society, the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS) management board and stakeholders will finally meet for the first time in a landmark summit and general assembly to be held in Cebu City in February.
The back-to-back meetings will gather hundreds of conservation advocates and members of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of Tañon Strait, which was declared a protected seascape, the biggest protected area in the country, by then-President Fidel Ramos on May 27, 1998.
With more than 350 members, the Tañon Strait PAMB has never held a general assembly due to its sheer size and conflicts between national agencies and local government units regarding jurisdiction and overlapping functions, said Protected Area Supervisor Viernov Grefalde.
The summit and PAMB meeting on Feb. 10-12, 2015 in Cebu City will be the first time for all its members to discuss issues regarding Tañon Strait, he added.
Known as one of the ten richest fishing grounds in the country, Tañon Strait is a narrow body of water between the islands of Cebu and Negros. It covers 521,018 hectares and borders 677 kilometers of coastline in three provinces.
Members of the PAMB include the local chief executives of 298 barangays, as well as 42 cities and municipalities. There are 126 locally managed and smaller marine protected areas within Tañon Strait, according to reports from the Tañon Strait secretariat.
Tañon Strait is known as the playground of cetaceans, with at least 14 species of whales and dolphins found in its waters. It also harbors a diverse range of marine habitats including 26 species of mangroves; 18,830 hectares of coral reefs representing 15 families; and seven species of seagrass, according to various studies.
Previous research has identified 70 species of fish and 20 species of crustaceans in Tañon Strait, which is known to have an abundance of squid, shrimp, clams, and crabs
Among the tourist attractions in the area are the dolphin watching tours n Bais Bay, scuba diving in Moalboal, and the white sand beaches of Bantayan island in northern Cebu.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which chairs the PAMB, signed a memorandum of agreement with the marine conservation organization, Oceana Philippines, and RARE last January 15, 2015 as partners in organizing the general meeting of Tañon Strait stakeholders.
“Convening the PAMB and holding the stakeholders’ summit are bold, big and essential first steps to ensure governance in TSPS that is participatory, transparent, accountable, predictable and effective,” said Oceana Philippines Vice President Gloria Estenzo-Ramos.
“With stakeholders working together, the dream of a well-managed TSPS will soon be a reality,” she added.
(Story courtesy of Oceana Philippines)