MANILA, Philippines - A town in Cebu has put up the country's first sanctuary for sharks and rays.
Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro designated the Monad Shoal and Gato Island as a shark and ray sanctuary, according to environmentalist group Greenpeace.
Catching and trading of shark and ray species are prohibited in these areas.
The waters around Monad Shoal and Gato Island teems with thresher and whitetip sharks as well as manta and devil rays.
In a forum aimed at strengthening and implementing the province’s shark and ray ordinance, Corro said the sanctuary would protect and conserve endangered shark and ray species.
“Hosting the shark and ray sanctuary is our way of giving back to nature and these creatures, which helped boost the local tourism.
The creation of the sanctuary was contained in Executive Order 16-2015, which was welcomed by environmentalists, marine conservationists, tourism executives, and local government agencies.
Vince Cinches, ocean campaigner for Greenpeace Philippines said it’s time for the country to have a shark and ray sanctuary.
“We urge our lawmakers to take the cue from Cebu and make similar moves to turn the country’s waters into a haven for all shark and ray species,” Cinches said.
Chad Estella, chief of the provincial anti-illegal fishing task force, said they would launch “Oplan Palwis” to strengthen Cebu’s ordinance that protects sharks and rays.
“This is to ensure that the country’s first shark and ray sanctuary will be effective, particularly in reversing fish decline due to overfishing,” Estella said.
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