MAASIN CITY, Southern Leyte, April 14 (PIA) -- In less than two years, the number of marine protected areas (MPAs) all over this province has increased to more than 60 sites, up from 40 barely a year ago.

Eva Abad, head of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Management Office (PENRMO), disclosed in a cable TV program last week, that seven (7) more are expected to be added to the existing sites, and these new locations are all in the coastal barangays of this city.

The Sangguniang Panlunsod (SP) or the city council was deeply in the process of deliberating in its regular session the approval of the 7 new MPA sites, Abad said.

Fishing is strictly prohibited in areas tagged as MPAs, with designated bouys as perimeter boundaries clearly visible for fishermen to understand it is not allowed to get in.

MPAs serve as breeding ground for many kinds of fishes, and when these fishes do populate the surroundings the mature ones go out into the open, beyond the bouy-lined zones, and that's the time local fishermen can catch them, Abad explained.


Most MPAs in the province covered large areas of mangrove forests, which also served as natural barriers against storm surges during stormy weather, Abad also said.

PENRMO is the provincial counterpart of a national agency, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), as mandated by the local government code of 1991.

In Southern Leyte province, PENRMO began to exist as a separate office in 1998 with the passage of the Provincial Environment Code, Abad informed.