Tañon Strait in peril from pollution, illegal fishing – marine biologist

A protected area is in peril due to pollution, illegal fishing, and inadequate implementation of environmental laws, a marine biologist notes.

Dr. Lemnuel Aragones said environmental protection is poorly implemented in the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape – the body of water that separates the islands of Negros and Cebu in the Visayas and a known superhighway for marine mammals such as dolphins and whales.

Based on information provided by Oceana Philippines, Tañon Strait is considered a critical habitat and important migratory path for 14 of the 27 species of whales and dolphins in the country. It is also a rich fishing ground for coastal dwellers in 42 cities and municipalities in Cebu and Negros Islands.

Aragones told media that he has been visiting Tañon Strait every year since 1998 and has noticed pollution and the poor management of whale-watching activities. Some boat owners, he said, have complained that it was difficult to comply with marina regulations, so they have not registered their whale-watching boats.

In terms of illegal fishing, he noticed the presence of commercial fishers along the towns surrounding the Strait, including Tanjay, Bais, and Manjuyod in Negros Oriental and Malabuyoc in Cebu.

And in terms of solid waste, the Philippines has been found to be one of five countries producing half of the world's plastic waste, and the effect can be seen in the country's waters, even in a protected area like the strait.