The Verde Island Passage Corridor occupies more than 1.14 million hectares between the provinces of Batangas, Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque and Romblon in the Philippines. Results of a 2005 study (Carpenter and Springer) has dubbed the Verde Passage as the world’s “center of the center of marine shorefish biodiversity,” hosting the greatest number of shorefish species. A coral survey conducted in Anilao, Balayan Bay, recorded an impressive 319 species and 74 genera of hard corals. More than half the Philippines’ documented fish species as well as many globally threatened species can be found here. Numerous studies in the Verde Passage continue to yield discoveries of species that are new to science, further underscoring the global biological significance of this area.
The Verde Island Passage is a highly productive fishing ground for both traditional and commercial fishers, and where coastal tourism and development is booming. It is a major sea lane with commercial and fishing vessels regularly passing through to reach the international ports of Batangas, Manila, and Subic Bay.
Verde Passage is an important area for shipping, tourism, fishing and other economic activities. As such, the integrity of the corridor’s rich ecosystem is threatened by various causes, such as illegal or destructive fishing, pollution, unsustainable land use practices and irresponsible tourism.
There are thousands of registered fisherman and fishing crafts in the various coastal municipalities, as well as registered commercial fishing vessels – all taking a toll on the thriving fisheries of Verde Island Passage. But the challenge of managing a sustainable fishing industry remains, as destructive fishing methods and unsustainable harvests are reported in the area.
Climate change impacts also pose a threat to the biodiversity of the Verde Passage. The ecological vulnerability of the passage to increased sea surface temperature, sea level rise, increased storm frequency and intensity, increased rainfall and ocean acidification has the potential to greatly affect the livelihood, infrastructure, food security and health of the more than 7 million people living in the five surrounding provinces of the Verde Island Passage.