The Tubbataha Reefs are atoll coral reefs located 157 kilometers southeast of Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.
It is a marine sanctuary protected as the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, covering almost 97,030 hectares of high-quality marine habitats supporting over 350 species of corals and almost 500 species of fish.
The site is a haven to whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and Napoleon wrasse. It also protects one of the few remaining colonies of breeding seabirds in the region.
In 1993, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) declared the park a World Heritage Site. It is administered as part of Cagayancillo, Palawan, and is under the protective management of the Department of National Defense.
In 1999, in response to overfishing, poaching and exploitation, the Palawan Council formed the 19-person Tubbataha Protected Area Management Board for Sustainable Development to conserve, manage and preserve the resources of Tubbataha.
In April 2010, Republic Act No. 10067, or the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act, was enacted to ensure the conservation and preservation of the sanctuary.
Last September, the World Future Council (WFC) lauded the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park Act for ensuring the effective management of the heritage site, citing the excellent condition of the reef compared with neighboring sites.
“Tubbataha has demonstrated that with carefully planned management, local communities need not bear the burden of closed protected areas, but can be their primary beneficiaries; as a nursery site for fish, the reef supports local artisanal fisheries,” the WFC said in a statement.
Sources: Inquirer Archives; Unesco; tubbatahareef.org; palawanboard.com