Located on the northern part of the Bohol Island, the Danajon Bank or Double Barrier Reef is the sole double barrier reef to be found in the Philippines. The reef spreads across 130 kilometers and consists of three large reefs all together. The name Danajon comes from the word “dahunan” which is a local name of a stingray that was previously abundant in the reef.
The Danajon Bank is composed of two large coral reefs that were created offshore on a submarine ridge largely through a combination of constructive tidal currents and coral development in the area. The reef is a rare geological phenomenon built by coral growth and is believed to be a result of over 6000 years of development. It also has an abundant marine flora and fauna. The enormous reef structure protects its denizens from strong currents and storms and thus encourages a good variety of micro-habitats to flourish inside the reef slopes and lagoons. The bank is an important source of biodiversity and a large breeding area for many types of fish and invertebrates. It is apparently also a critical pathway of the Asia southward bird migratory route.
With such abundant marine life, the Double Barrier Reef is known to be worth 8 million U.S dollars. It is a critical fishing area for Leyte, Cebu and Southern Leyte fishers who rely solely on fishing for their livelihood. It also has a wide array of commercially valuable reef fishes, crustaceans, shellfish and invertebrates such as sea urchins and sea cucumbers. Its extensive sea grass bed is feeding ground for rabbit fish, seahorses, and mollusks, which makes it an even more delicate site.
Unfortunately, the Danajon Bank goes through extremely high fishing pressure due to illegal and destructive methods of fishing. Most shallow fishing spots that surround the reef are heavily exploited by both local fishers and commercial fishing boats that exercise illegal fishing inside municipal waters.
With this, a variety of management efforts have been initiated to put these harsh activities to a halt. Adding to this the steady increase of beach resorts building around the coastal areas, management should immediately implement such measures to preserve such a wonderful gift of nature. Non-government organizational projects have recently worked with municipalities to develop programs such as the activation of POS, development of CRM plans, resource assessment activities, re-establishment of marine sanctuaries and marine protected areas, implement coastal law enforcement and the introduction of livelihood projects around the area.
The continued sustainable use and proper management of the Danajon Bank or Double Barrier Reef is critical to not only its coastal and surrounding communities but to the entire Central Visayas region as well. This unique reef formulation and abundant marine biodiversity serves as a great potential for ecotourism, but only if its economic condition starts to significantly improve. By saving the bank, it will definitely help the residents maintain their supply of fish and other water organisms which sustain their livelihood. There is no doubt that it will prove to be to the community’s benefit to rehabilitate the coast and fishing resources of the Bank.