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Monday, May 19, 2008

Tañon Strait (Protected Seascape)

Monday, May 19, 2008 Posted by vernon go

The Tañon strait separates Cebu and Negros. Its peripheral provinces are Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. The Strait has a total coastline of 452.7 km. and a total area of 3,108.00 square kilometers. It is relatively deep with the deepest at 509 meters. Its coast is sharply sloping and fringe with reefs.

Tañon Strait is bounded with 36 coastal municipalities and cities of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental. Small islands and islets can be found at the central part and northern boundary of the Strait. Patches of mangroves aggregates are found in the southern coast at both sides of Negros Oriental and Cebu. There are 188.3 sq. km. of coral reef within the strait, composed mostly fringing reef along the Negros and Cebu coastlines.

The Tañon Strait straddling the islands of Negros and Cebu has been regarded as an important migration corridor for whales, dolphins and other marine mammals. It is a favored destination for whale-watchers, conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts. However, the ecology of the Tañon Strait and the marine species that it hosts are poorly understood and threatened.

A law was signed by former president Fidel V. Ramos declaring Tañon Strait as a protected seascape, and that any exploitation of energy resources found within protected areas shall be allowed only through a law passed by Congress.

The Strait separates Negros and Cebu. It is a home to almost 50% of the dolphins and whales species found in the Philippines making one of the highest concentration of marine mammals in the country. This reflects the rich marine life in this part of my island. It is also one of the major fishing grounds of Central Visayas and a major supplier of squids. This is where fishermen get their living to have those calamares on your plate. The whales and dolphin has become a tourist attraction in Eastern Negros.

It has a distinct habitat of the chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius, local name taklong) and a migration route of Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus). It is home to at least nine species of cetaceans, the most interesting of which are the Dwarf sperm whales (Kogia simus) and Melonheaded whale (Peponocepala electra). Thus, the strait is one of the priority areas for conservation of cetaceans and reef fishes.

The Strait is one of the major fishing grounds of Central Visayas and is identified as major source of squids. Based on the survey of the BFAR and the Coastal Resource Management Project (CRMP), there are about 26,850 fishers operating in the area and more than 12,000 motorized and non-motorized boats.

It is particularly the fishing grounds of Eastern Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental and Western Cebu. Study shows that Tañon Strait have the highest number of gillnets (kurantay (drift gillnets) Palabay (bottom gillnets), patuloy (surface-set gillnets), hooks and lines (pamasol) and squid jigs among the major fishing grounds of Central Visayas. Beach seine (sahid / baling) is also concentrated in Tañon Strait, although declared illegal is tolerated.