Verde Island Passage Marine Protected Area Network and Law Enforcement Network MOA Signing

The Philippine National Police together with the Provincial Government of Batangas, Romblon, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, as well as representatives from Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) signed a memorandum of agreement to create a network for the protection and sustainable management of the Verde Island Passage- the center of marine shorefish biodiversity in the world held on March 29, 2017 at Hotel Pontefino, Batangas City.

The project, called the Verde Island Passage Marine Protected Area Network and Law Enforcement Network, aims to streamline the steps the provinces and agencies will take to protect the passage, which covers more than 1.14 million hectares between the provinces. The Conservation International-Philippines has been working with governments and local communities since 2005 to develop scalable conservation and MPA plans leading to the formation of MPA networks and coastal law enforcement networks.

Verde Island Passage is a strait that separates the islands of Luzon and Mindoro, connecting the South China Sea with the Tayabas Bay and the Sibuyan Sea beyond. It is one of the busiest sea lanes in the Philippines because it is the main shipping route between the Port of Manila and the Visayas and Mindanao in the south. Also many ferries navigate the waters, connecting the surrounding provinces of Batangas, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro and Romblon.

Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity, A team of marine conservationist declared in 2006 that the Philippines is the Center of Marine Biodiversity in the world and Verde Island Passages as the "Center of the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity"The Verde Island Passage is an area rich in marine life which includes many threatened species. The area has more than 300 species of corals, which is considered one of the largest concentrations of corals in the country or even in the whole world. Coral health is generally good, though the effects of global warming and increased pollution, may still lead to drop in diversity

 dive spots in Verde Island Passage
Section of the Twin Rocks marine protected area in Barangay Anilao in Mabini, Batangas, one of the popular dive spots in Verde Island Passage —PHOTO COURTESY OF SMARTSEASPH PROJECT