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'Protectors of Tanon Strait' files landmark case against 'lucky 13' for illegal fishing.

THE 'Protectors of Tanon Strait' recently filed criminal raps against 13 crew members of a commercial fishing vessel recently apprehended within the Tanon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS), one of the country's largest marine-protected areas.

The 13, including the captain and his crew, are the first to be slapped with such protected-area case.

The filing of the case at the Department of Justice (DOJ) for violation of environmental laws in a protected area pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 7586, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act came after various stakeholders in TSPS reaffirmed on November 15 their commitment to protect and conserve the territory in Dumaguete City.

Organized by Oceana Philippines, an ocean-conservation advocacy group, officials and representatives of the Province of Negros Oriental, Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) through the TSPS Protected Area Office, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and other local government units held a news conference to announce the start of the closed fishing season for the mackerel, herrings and sardines in the Visayan Sea on the same day.

The three-month closed fishing season will end on February 15 next year.

The group warned the TSPS that basically the entire Tanon Strait remains 'off limits' to commercial fishing operations.

The TSPS serves as a breeding ground, playground and feeding ground for a good number of marine wildlife, including whales, sharks, dolphins and marine turtles. It is also the fishing ground of municipal fishers, but commercial fishing is banned within the Tanon Strait.

TSPS is a narrow strait that divides the islands of Negros and Cebu. The TSPS is shared by 42 local government units from Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Cebu Provinces.

The DOJ has created a National Task Force of Special Prosecutors pursuant to RA 7586, to implement its mandate of efficient, effective and equitable administration of justice with a particular focus on protected areas.

This was borne out of the collaborative efforts of the DENR and its BMB, plus the DOJ to give life to the mandate of RA 7586 of providing speedy and efficient prosecution of cases, specifically for protected areas.

The law recognizes that effective administration and sustainable management of protected areas is 'possible only through cooperation among national government, local government and concerned private organizations; that the use and enjoyment of these protected areas must be consistent with the principles of biological diversity and sustainable development.'

'This is a landmark moment that should help deter the that of prohibited acts, especially in ecologically critical areas, such as our protected areas,' Oceana Philippines Vice President Gloria Estenzo Ramos said in a statement.

'Illegal and destructive fishing dramatically destroys the vibrancy and productivity of our oceans-causing our country to lose about P44 billion in lost fishing revenues yearly,' added Ramos, an environmental lawyer.

President Duterte promised to curb illegal fishing through stricter enforcement of marine-and fisheries-related laws.

'With stricter law enforcement, more of the country's marine resources can be protected to provide food and livelihood for our fellow Filipinos,' she said.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Nov 20, 2017
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