The Environment Department’s Protected Areas & Wildlife Bureau, and RARE Inc., an international NGO, have agreed to undertake activities at the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape to help enhance the marine protected area system.
“The system must be enhanced so it can be a more effective tool for conserving marine key biodiversity areas, (MKBAs) nationwide,” PAWB ecosystems management specialist Angie Meniado said.
MKBAs are globally significant sites for conservation.
On Thursday, PAWB and RARE signed the agreement for the Tañon Strait undertaking that will fully take off next year, Meniado said.
Tañon Strait is one of five pilot sites for the project UNDP-Global Environmental Facility is funding, through an initial USD8 million grant, to improve the country’s marine conservation efforts.
The seascape covers Oriental and Occidental Negros and Cebu provinces, and connects the Visayan Sea to the Bohol Sea.
Republic Act 7586, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992, provides the legal framework for establishing and managing protected areas, like portions of land and/or water identified for conservation and protection due to unique physical and biological significance.
Meniado said RARE has agreed to join the Tañon Strait undertaking since the NGO has projects in that seascape and is already known to the Negrenses.
She added that RARE’s environmental information campaign under the agreement will be an interesting challenge as local government units have respective conservation efforts.
How to harmonize the Tañon Strait conservation efforts with that of the national government is a big challenge, she said.
Meniado said conservation efforts must improve further to save the marine environment from collapse.
She said pollution, destructive fishing, haphazard coastal development, population pressure and climate change are among threats to the country’s marine environment.
Authorities earlier reported that over 70 percent of the country’s 27,000 square kilometers of coral reefs are already in poor condition.
About half of seagrass beds nationwide has been either lost or degraded since 1950, they also warned. (PNA)