Governors, mayors move to save whales, dolphins in Tañon Strait from poachers
New resolutions tightening enforcement and monitoring efforts approved by the Coastal Law Enforcement Alliance in Region 7 (CLEAR7) will make illegal and destructive fishing within Tañon Strait riskier-than-ever, a statement showed.
CLEAR7 was established through a Memorandum of Agreement signed by various government agencies and non-government organizations to pursue a coordinated coastal law enforcement strategy in the Central Visayas.
One of the largest protected areas in the country, the Tañon Strait is known as a hotbed for whales and dolphins, with fishing as the major source of livelihood, where 28,144 marginal fishers reside.
Declared a protected area since 1998, the Strait is beset by various challenges such as illegal fishing by commercial fishers, continued use of dynamite, cyanide and fine mesh nets, pollution and unregulated coastal development.
In a meeting recently held in Cebu City, CLEAR7 members agreed to set-up a multi-agency, multisectoral task force to develop and implement an operation plan to minimize and eventually eradicate illegal fishing before 2019.
All CLEAR7 members will particularly appoint permanent representatives under the Policy, Monitoring, Control & Surveillance, and Capacity-building Committees.
Policy Committee members will develop and review interagency enforcement protocols, develop and implement an awards and recognition system and document best practices.
Monitoring, Control & Surveillance Committee members, on the other hand, will coordinate field enforcement operations including maintaining oversight over criminal prosecutions, while capacity-Building Committee members will develop and implement training sessions, seminars, conference and meetings.
“This ensures cross-cutting capacity to deal with various challenges as members come from a wide range of disciplines. An enforcement plan under a recently-published General Management Plan for the Tañon Strait gives enforcers guidelines for operations,” a statement from Oceana Philippines reads.