Community-based effort to establish a Marine Protected area in the Verde Island Passage

The Verde Island Passage (VIP) is known as the Center of the Center of Marine Biodiversity on Earth. On April 1, 2022, Tony got together all the stakeholders of the VIP to envision the making of marine protected areas, also known as a fish sanctuary.

But the terms ‘marine protected area’ or ‘fish sanctuary’ are not easily understandable by local fishermen. In fact, it has negative connotations for them. Because when a marine sanctuary is put up, they are prohibited from fishing in the area.

Fish Nursery – Itlogan ng Isda

But to make it more understandable and relatable to the locals, especially of the affected fishermen and to everyone else, Tony creatively reframed the term ‘marine sanctuary’. He started calling it an Itlogan ng Isda (INI – Fish Breeding Grounds).

Tony organized a meeting of concerned citizens and government officials last April 1, 2022 in his new beach house in Anilao, Batangas. The Province of Batangas, where the Anilao village is located is part of the Verde Island Passage.

They dreamed of working hand in hand to care for the Sea. Together with scuba divers, sailors, officers and members of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Coast Guard–Auxiliary, Department of Environment, Local Government, fishermen, and simple Concerned Citizens, they got together to put up a precedent-setting Itlogan Ng Isda (INI).

It was a memorable moment when various people from many walks of life dared to care for the Sea, so lovely dark and deep.

It was a meeting of friends—of people of shared passion for the Sea.

Typical of his inclination for action, Tony mobilized them into immediate proactive action. Right after the short orientation session, they went off to the sea. Some made marine buoys out of plastic waste. Others went underwater to put up the marine buoys of the INI – Itlogan ng Isda.

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