MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte- The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Management Office (PENRMO) is expanding the marine protected areas (MPAs) in Southern Leyte “to ensure a year-round availability of fishes and other marine resources.”
Armando O. Gaviola,Community Development Assistant II under the Provincial Environment and Natural resources management office, said the provincial government has been looking for more potential sites to be added to the existing 56 MPAs or known as fish sanctuaries in 17 towns and one city.
Before an area in an open sea could be declared as MPA, it should possessed in its bottom numerous corals and ample sea grass as prerequisite for the establishment of MPAs, a program introduced by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“For some coastal municipalities that have mangrove plantations near its fish sanctuaries. It’s preferably recommended as model for adaption for other areas that have also mangrove plantations,” Gaviola said.
Mangrove plantations and fish sanctuaries with plenty of corals and sea grass are equally good and conducively suitable for breeding and birthing places of different fish species and other marine resources, according to him.
He pointed out that inhabitants in every community should protect and conserve their respective fish sanctuaries “to remain intact and healthy by having regular guards in a day and night eight-hour weekly or fortnightly shifting schedules, composed of either village watchmen, village council members and sea patrollers.”
Gaviola also informed that town local government units where fish sanctuaries are established to assign village guard in the area in a day and night shifting schedule. Fishing within the MPAs is strictly prohibited.
Nevertheless, occasional scuba diving for sight-seeing inside the MPAs is allowed. However, those who bring with them cameras will have to pay some amount. “Payment for bringing camera or video equipment while diving differs from one municipality to another. The payment depends upon the decision of those who managed their respective fish sanctuaries.”
Gaviola said that different fish sanctuaries were having various lengths of its buffer zones-from 50 meters, 150 meters, 200, 300 up to 500 meters.
MPAs have also different sizes – the smallest is 2.19 hectares located in Timba village, San Juan town and the biggest is 74.69 hectares in Macrohon Park Birds and Fish Sanctuary in Macrohon town.
He likewise revealed that the town bagged the recognition as one of the well-managed MPAs nationwide, while Macrohon Park Birds and Fish Sanctuary ranked third as the best MPAs in the country.
The national search competition in 2013 conducted by the Para El Mar (For Mother Earth) has handed over prized money, plaques and some goods as their awards for both Hinundayan and Macrohon towns.BY VICKY ARNAIZ/PNA