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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, May 11, 2012
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More marine sanctuaries planned

SIPALAY CITY - Three more marine sanctuaries are being eyed to be established in this place known as the jewel of the Sugar island of Negros, following the successful establishment of a marine protected area at the Campomanes Bay, in 2004.

Almost eight years after being declared as a marine protected area, the 66-hectare Campomanes.marine sanctuary is now famous for its abundant underwater community permeate, which attract more domestic tourists and foreigners, Aquaculturist Leo Chua, who is in-charge of the protected area, said.

Small fishermen , who are allowed fishing through " pamunit, “”hook and sinker” outside the marine sanctuary , said they catch eight to 12 kilos of fish in a whole night, as fishing nets are prohibited in the area.

Before its declaration as a marine reserve area, all kinds of destructive fishing methods were being employed by fishermen, and residents, almost 24 hours a day. Determined to restore the richness of its marine bio-diversity, the city government declared it a protected area. It was not an easy job to educate the displaced fishermen, estimated at 100, Chua admitted.

The displaced fishermen were provided with livelihood assistance, such as small boats and fish cages, to support their families, while being enlightened on the importance of preserving the protected area, he added.

Those who were destroying the area, are now serving as its protectors, by acting as eyes and ears of the roving Bantay Dagat personnel, Chua said.

With its success, Chua said the city government is planning to establish more marine sanctuaries in Brgys. Cartagena, Maricalum and IV, all in Sipalay City, which will cover an estimated 80 hectares.

Mayor Oscar Montilla said yesterday that fishermen in Hinobaan and Cauayan are enjoying abundant fish catch, because of the strict implementation of fishery laws in Sipalay City.

About 17 Bantay Dagat personnel headed by Wennie Patenio are patrolling the marine protected and coastal areas of Sipalay City, by using a yacht and three high-speed pump boats, 24 hours a day.

Sipalay City, known for its diving sites, clean and powdery brown sand beaches, and hidden lagoons, is getting more popular among European tourists.

Montilla said they recorded about 50,000 European tourists visiting Sipalay annually, because of its nature attractions.

Sipalay has 42 diving sites, that includes the ship wrecks of SS Panay and MS Jojo located at the Campomanes Bay. Its entrance is a wide expanse of coral garden with various species of corals and fish.

Montilla said another event of the Triathlon competition, a similar sport activity to what was held in Sipalay City in previous months, brought more than a thousand tourists to Sipalay City, will again be held in the place this month.

Sipalay is also known for its kilometers-long powdery sand beaches, which is ideal for swimming, snorkeling and other water-related activities, as well as for its hidden lagoons. Tinagong Dagat ( Hidden Sea), which is dotted with dozen of islets and covered with lush vegetation, salt water lake in Matlag and a fresh water lagoon, are also among the tourist destination areas in Sipalay. * GPB





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