Oceana Philippines is calling on the public to nominate individuals who have contributed to protecting Tañon Strait, between the islands of Negros and Cebu.
The nominees will vie for the first “Ocean Heroes Award”, Oceana said Monday in a media release as the country celebrated National Heroes' Day.
“We are looking for heroes who inspire us and have shown that we can be agents of change to protect and conserve the beauty and bounty of Tañon Strait,” Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice president of Oceana Philippines, said.
“We will recognize individuals who have consistently worked to protecting Tañon Strait, fought against destructive projects and illegal fishing, ensured enforcement of fisheries laws and protection of habitats and species, and those who serve as inspiration in effecting policies to attain sustainable fisheries management in the protected area,” she added.
The “Ocean Heroes Award” is sponsored and organized jointly by Oceana Philippines, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Central Visayas.
Winners will receive P50,000 in cash prize.
While Tañon Strait was declared a “protected seascape” in 1998 by former President Fidel V. Ramos, there are still many challenges stalling its effective management and conservation, Daniel Ocampo, campaigns director of Oceana Philippines, was quoted as saying.
These include destructive and blast fishing, illegal commercial fishing, pollution from various sources, and destruction of ecosystems and habitats brought about by unregulated and illegal developments, such as reclamation projects.
Tañon Strait is the country's largest marine protected area, serving as an important migration zone for whale sharks, dolphins and marine mammals. It is 160 kilometers long, with a total area of 518,221 hectares.
In February this year, Ramos said hundreds of representatives from more than 40 cities and municipalities and 298 barangays in Negros and Cebu gathered in Cebu to approve the creation of a Tañon Strait Protected Seascape Protected Area Management Board, which approved a plan to enforce strategies and measures against destructive activities in the TSPS.
The Ocean Heroes Award contest nomination forms and mechanics are available at www.tanonstrait.org.*JFP/PR
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