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Waiting for tuna in Albay

Today, about 52% of the country’s fish exports come from tuna, which buoys the lives and livelihoods of millions of Filipinos. WWF’s Global Oceans Campaign, Sustain Our Seas, builds on decades of work to rekindle the health and productivity of the Earth’s oceans.

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By Gregg Yan

A little boy admires his family boat's sigil - a jumping Bankulis or Yellowfin Tuna. The boy's future might very well depend on whether these oceanic giants keep on jumping.  PHOTO COURTESY OF WWF-PHILIPPINES

A little boy admires his family boat’s sigil – a jumping Bankulis or Yellowfin Tuna. The boy’s future might very well depend on whether these oceanic giants keep on jumping.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WWF-PHILIPPINES

Late afternoon and we’re holed up in a hut along the coast of Tiwi in Albay, trading fish tales and waiting for fishermen to return. Sitting around us are their wives, mending nets and eyeing the swelling crowd of kids cajoling in the surf. It is June, the season for yellowfin tuna.

The first of the bancas arrive, unloading a decent haul of pundahan or skipjack – small, striped tuna which have proven surprisingly resilient to commercial fishing. Bancas two and three return empty-handed while a fourth disgorges a tub of galunggong or scad. Just one bankulis or yellowfin tuna has been landed, hours earlier. She tipped the scales at 39 kilograms, golden sickle-fins resplendent even in death. We wait until the sun dips into the sea, but no more tuna come.

“The Lagonoy Gulf is the Bicol region’s richest tuna site – but it is heavily overfished,” explains BFAR National Stock Assessment project head Virginia Olaño. “Two decades ago, fishers regularly caught large yellowfin. In 1998, a fisherman landed a 196 kilogram giant, long as a car and fat as a drum. Now yields are waning and yellowfin average just 18 to 35 kilograms – meaning juveniles have replaced adults.”

Though yellowfin tuna are highly-prized, they are far more than mere seafood. Top predators in the marine food chain, they maintain the balance between oceanic predators and prey. “Today the Lagonoy Gulf’s most common fish are anchovies,” warns Olaño. “There aren’t enough predators to eat them – because we’ve eaten most of their predators.”

To stop overfishing and help manage existing tuna stocks in Bicol, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), plus the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) convened the first meeting of the Gulf of Lagonoy Tuna Fishers Federation (GLTFF), comprised of the coastal municipalities ringing the Lagonoy Gulf – 3070-square kilometers of sea separating the Bicol mainland from the storm-swept island of Catanduanes. Over 500 people attended Bicol’s first large-scale gathering of fishers, held at the Lagman Auditorium of Bicol University’s Tabaco Campus.

“We’ve waited three years to formalize this federation, which covers 2000 tuna fishers in the Lagonoy Gulf,” says BFAR Assistant Regional Director Marjurie Grutas. “GLTFF aims to synergize fisheries management while optimizing cooperation, knowledge-sharing and enforcement. We aim to eliminate illegal fishing, minimize the capture of juvenile tuna and drive commercial fishers away from municipal waters – the three leading causes of overfishing.”

Since 2011, WWF has been working to enhance yellowfin tuna management practices for 5000 fishers in 112 tuna fishing villages around the Lagonoy Gulf and the coast of Occidental Mindoro.

WWF’s Public Private Partnership Programme Towards Sustainable Tuna (PPTST) has since organized tuna fishing associations in all 15 municipalities in the Lagonoy Gulf, plus six LGUs in the Mindoro Strait. It spearheaded the registration and licensing of tuna fishers, vessels and gear to minimize bycatch and illegal fishing, deployed 1000 plastic tuna tags to make the fishery traceable, and completed a series of training sessions on proper tuna handling to ensure that exported tuna continually meet international quality standards.

PPTST harnesses market power and consumer demand to promote sustainably-caught tuna and support low-impact fishing methods like artisanal fishing with hand-line reels – better alternatives to commercial tuna long-lines, which stretch up to 80 kilometers and are rigged with up to 3000 baited hooks.

Funded by Coop, Bell Seafood, Seafresh and the German Investment and Development Corporation, PPTST involves European seafood companies plus their local suppliers, BFAR, local government units in the Bicol Region and Mindoro, the WWF Coral Triangle Program, WWF-Germany plus WWF-Philippines.

Today, about 52% of the country’s fish exports come from tuna, which buoys the lives and livelihoods of millions of Filipinos. WWF’s Global Oceans Campaign, Sustain Our Seas, builds on decades of work to rekindle the health and productivity of the Earth’s oceans.

“Federations like GLTFF are the resource management systems of the future,” concludes WWF-Philippines president and CEO Joel Palma while sampling maguro sashimi (thinly-cut tuna slices) sourced from the sole 39 kilogram yellowfin landed in Tiwi.

Savoring sashimi, I hope that by working to conserve their shared resource, Lagonoy Gulf’s fishers might someday herald the return of the giant bankulis. Now that fish tale should be worth the wait.

A fisherman shows off a colorful squid lure, used to entice large pelagic predators to bite. A plethora of makeshift items - from dyed feathers and rubber squid to shredded plastic bags - are used to attract and catch tuna, billfish and mackerel. Each fisher has his own formula: "I use a combination of rubber squid and shredded plastic lures, but my real secret is squid ink, which I tie-off in tiny plastic bags. As the lure moves, the squid ink squirts out. Fish find this irresistible," shares Miguel Borres, a grizzled veteran. Though gear has evolved, many fishers still rely on age-old techniques to collect their quarry.  PHOTO COURTESY OF WWF-PHILIPPINES

A fisherman shows off a colorful squid lure, used to entice large pelagic predators to bite.
A plethora of makeshift items – from dyed feathers and rubber squid to shredded plastic bags – are used to attract and catch tuna, billfish and mackerel.
Each fisher has his own formula: “I use a combination of rubber squid and shredded plastic lures, but my real secret is squid ink, which I tie-off in tiny plastic bags. As the lure moves, the squid ink squirts out. Fish find this irresistible,” shares Miguel Borres, a grizzled veteran.
Though gear has evolved, many fishers still rely on age-old techniques to collect their quarry.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WWF-PHILIPPINES

 Yellowfin Tuna are so-named because of their canary yellow fins and finlets. The torpedo-shaped fish have clocked in speeds of 75 kilometers per hour - almost TWICE the speed of the world’s fastest person, Usain Bolt! PHOTO COURTESY OF WWF-PHILIPPINES

Yellowfin Tuna are so-named because of their canary yellow fins and finlets.
The torpedo-shaped fish have clocked in speeds of 75 kilometers per hour – almost TWICE the speed of the world’s fastest person, Usain Bolt!
PHOTO COURTESY OF WWF-PHILIPPINES

The most sought-after fish in Bicol's Lagonoy Gulf is the Yellowfin Tuna. A fisher shows off a handsome 39-kilogramme fish. Two decades ago, fishers caught a 196-kilogramme Yellowfin - the largest caught in the Gulf. Classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as near threatened, Yellowfin Tuna sport metallic blue backs, golden flanks and a silver belly. Sickle-shaped dorsal and anal fins, hued bright yellow, grant them their name.  They form schools with other tuna species and sometimes with dolphins. While most fish have white flesh, tuna tissue hosts loads of myoglobin, which efficiently oxygenates their systems to give tuna meat a distinctive red hue and mouth-watering texture. This is why they’re so highly sought after. WWF works to conserve tuna stocks in the Philippines through its Partnership Programme Towards Sustainable Tuna (PPTST) project.  PHOTO COURTESY OF WWF-PHILIPPINES

The most sought-after fish in Bicol’s Lagonoy Gulf is the Yellowfin Tuna. A fisher shows off a handsome 39-kilogramme fish.
Two decades ago, fishers caught a 196-kilogramme Yellowfin – the largest caught in the Gulf.
Classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as near threatened, Yellowfin Tuna sport metallic blue backs, golden flanks and a silver belly. Sickle-shaped dorsal and anal fins, hued bright yellow, grant them their name.
They form schools with other tuna species and sometimes with dolphins. While most fish have white flesh, tuna tissue hosts loads of myoglobin, which efficiently oxygenates their systems to give tuna meat a distinctive red hue and mouth-watering texture. This is why they’re so highly sought after.
WWF works to conserve tuna stocks in the Philippines through its Partnership Programme Towards Sustainable Tuna (PPTST) project.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WWF-PHILIPPINES

 Smaller fish such as scad and mackerel comprise the majority of fishers' subsistence hauls. PHOTO COURTESY OF WWF-PHILIPPINES

Smaller fish such as scad and mackerel comprise the majority of fishers’ subsistence hauls.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WWF-PHILIPPINES

A fisherman rests after unloading his craft's catch.  Thousands fish under the shadow of Mayon Volcano, whose rich volcanic nutrients fuel blooms of plankton - the essential base of the marine food pyramid. PHOTO COURTESY OF WWF-PHILIPPINES

A fisherman rests after unloading his craft’s catch.
Thousands fish under the shadow of Mayon Volcano, whose rich volcanic nutrients fuel blooms of plankton – the essential base of the marine food pyramid.
PHOTO COURTESY OF WWF-PHILIPPINES

 

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Travel

Travelling farther away from home linked to better health

How often people travel and the range of places visited are important, with those who regularly travel more than 15 miles away from home more likely to report being in general good health.

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People who travel more outside of their local area feel that they are healthier than those who stay closer to home, finds a new study led by UCL researchers.

How often people travel and the range of places visited are important, with those who regularly travel more than 15 miles away from home more likely to report being in general good health.

Those who travel to a wider variety of places are more likely to see friends and family. This increase in social participation is then linked to better health.

Researchers say the results provide strong evidence of the need for investment in medium and long-distance transport options, such as better serviced roads and access to trains and buses.

For the paper, published in Transport & Health, the researchers analysed travel in the north of England, where residents face worse health outcomes than the rest of England and many rural and suburban areas suffer from poor transport accessibility.

Specifically, they looked at the links between perceived constraints to travel outside of the local area, such as a lack of suitable public transport, and self-rated health, considering trip frequency, the number of different places visited, distance travelled, car use and public transport use.

Lead author Dr Paulo Anciaes (UCL Bartlett School of Environment, Energy & Resources) said: “We expected to find that restrictions on travel through a lack of access to suitable public transport or to a private car would be linked to residents’ perception of their health because of the lack of social participation.

“We explored the links between constraints to travel more than 15 miles from home, demographics and location and social participation in how residents perceived their own health, finding that the key variable is the number of different places people visit outside their local area. This links to more social participation and better health.”

The researchers conducted an online survey of 3,014 nationally representative residents in the north of England. Constraints to travel have previously been identified as contributing to economic disadvantage and a lower sense of wellbeing in the region, but the impact on health hadn’t been analysed before. The team used a research technique called “path analysis”, which uncovers the direct and indirect effects of constraints to travel outside of people’s local area.

The study found that the links between travel constraints, social participation and health are stronger among those aged over 55. Among this group, constraints to the number of different places people can travel to is linked to less frequent contact with friends and participation in clubs and societies.

Dr Anciaes explained: “Those aged over 55 are more likely to face other constraints to travel such as limited mobility. They are also more likely to suffer from loneliness. In the north of England, rural and suburban areas with limited access options are more likely to experience population loss as young people move to the cities in search of work and good travel options. Meanwhile, older generations are left behind in these areas with limited transport options. The range of places they can visit is low, leading to less social participation and lower levels of general health.

“The results of this study emphasise the need for public policies that reduce constraints to travel in the region, by providing better options for private and public transport that allows for more frequent and longer trips.”

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Destinations

The one-and-only Hobbiton from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is now on Airbnb

With access to 44 Hobbit Holes, The Millhouse, The Green Dragon Inn, and other beloved locations from the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, guests will take an unexpected journey into Middle-earth for an experience unlike any other.

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For the first time ever, fans from around the world can explore the faraway lands of their favorite holiday films with an exclusive overnight stay at the original Hobbiton™ Movie Set. Russell Alexander is inviting guests to his family’s property to live like Bilbo Baggins and retreat to The Shire for an overnight stay at Hobbiton, as featured in the famed The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies.

Nestled in the picturesque pastures of New Zealand’s Waikato region on a 2,500-acre working farm, the property’s rolling, green hills – bear a striking similarity to The Shire as described by J. R. R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings, and captivated Sir Peter Jackson’s movie scouts more than two decades ago. The team quickly realized the Hobbits had found their home – and this holiday season, it could be yours.

Alexander will host three individual two-night stays for up to four guests at NZD $10 per night* as an homage to the 10th anniversary of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, courtesy of Airbnb.

With access to 44 Hobbit Holes, The Millhouse, The Green Dragon Inn, and other beloved locations from the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, guests will take an unexpected journey into Middle-earth for an experience unlike any other.

With sweeping views of The Shire, they’ll enjoy:

  • Cozy overnight accommodation curated by the trilogies’ Creative Director Brian Massey, including a writing nook fit for Bilbo Baggins at The Millhouse.
  • Private access to a personal Hobbit Hole, set up for relaxing moments of Preciousss  downtime and afternoon tea.
  • An evening banquet in The Green Dragon Inn with a feast featuring beef and ale stew, whole roast chickens, freshly baked breads and plenty of ale, plus Second Breakfast and Elevenses served daily.
  • A behind-the-scenes private tour of Hobbiton Movie Set.

Now, one does not simply walk into Middle-earth. There are rules.

  • No unexpected parties, please –  unless with Gandalf and company.
  • Bare feet are allowed but wipe them first.
  • Magical rings permitted, but keep them secret, keep them safe.
  • Pony parking is provided only at The Green Dragon Inn.
  • Straying far at night is discouraged, thanks to multiple troll sightings of late.
  • No pets are allowed, except Pickles the resident Hobbiton cat.
  • Never laugh at live dragons…

“For more than two decades, we’ve welcomed millions of passionate fans to Hobbiton Movie Set, but never before has anyone had the opportunity to spend a night in Middle-earth. I am delighted to share the beauty of my family’s farm and pleased to be hosting this iconic location on Airbnb for fans from around the world,” shares Host Russel Alexander.

How to book

Hobbits, elves, wizards and others may request to book one of three overnight stays on Wednesday, December 14 from 10:00AM NZDT/5:00AM PHT at airbnb.com/hobbiton. Stays will take place March 2-4, March 9-11, and March 16-18, 2023. You Shall Not Pass! (without requesting to book, of course).

To request to book, guests must have a verified Airbnb profile, a history of positive reviews and be aged 18+. Maximum occupancy is four persons. Two bedrooms are configured, featuring one queen bed, and the other two king-singles.

Guests are responsible for their own transportation to and from Auckland, New Zealand. Round trip car transportation will be provided for the two-hour journey between the airport and the property. (And just as a Wizard is never late, it’s important our guests arrive at their stay precisely when they mean to).

Travellers looking to book should note that this stay’s rules require strict adherence with local COVID-19 guidelines. Guests are responsible for their own travel to and from Auckland. Airbnb is closely monitoring COVID-19 infection rates and government policies and will offer booking guests a refund of the booking fee ($31) and $1,000 USD Airbnb travel credit if Airbnb determines it is necessary to cancel the stay due to COVID-19 guidelines.

*Plus taxes and fees. These three individual two-night stays are not a contest. The Hobbiton Movie Set is privately owned and operated.

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Destinations

Greenfield District in Mandaluyong kicks off its holiday celebration

To mark the beginning of the district-wide yuletide merry-making, the event kicked off recently with the traditional lighting of the 60-foot Christmas tree at the Greenfield District Central Park,. followed by a magical display of fireworks and Christmas caroling by a 20-piece chorale , setting the mood for guests to get into the holiday spirit.

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Greenfield District, the smart and connected urban center of Greenfield Development Corporation (GDC) in Mandaluyong City, transformed into a holiday wonderland with the launch of GDC’s annual Christmas festivities called “A Christmas for Generations”. 

To mark the beginning of the district-wide yuletide merry-making, the event kicked off recently with the traditional lighting of the 60-foot Christmas tree at the Greenfield District Central Park,.  followed by a magical display of fireworks and Christmas caroling by a 20-piece chorale , setting the mood for guests to get into the holiday spirit.

“After two years of not having face-to-face yuletide celebrations, Filipinos are surely excited to once again gather with their loved ones to celebrate the country’s festive Christmas season,” said GDC President and Chairman Jeffrey D.Y. Campos.  “Greenfield District is a venue where different generations, from senior citizen grandparents to Gen Z kids, can bond with each other by taking part in the fun holiday activities of the District,” he added.

Ongoing  until December 25, Filipinos of all ages are in for a lot of holiday fun at the District. On December 17, families, especially kids are invited to come and meet  Santa Claus at Greenfield District’s “A Night with Santa” , which will feature merry activities and gift giving.

Meanwhile, adults can start their holiday shopping early as the Greenfield District Central Park will showcase weekend bazaars starting this month until December. Shoppers can look forward to discovering value for money gift ideas, trendy fashion pieces, delicious treats and more. While shopping, visitors can also enjoy a quick food trip and engage in Arts and Crafts activities while immersing at the bazaars dressed in colorful Christmas decorations. 

With a mission to build future-ready and sustainable communities for generations of Filipinos, GDC upholds its tradition of organizing events that promote the value of togetherness and spending quality time with the family.

“At GDC, we are committed to not only building properties for generations but also creating verdant, spacious neighborhoods where Filipino families can create beautiful memories together throughout the years. Christmas is a special occasion for many Filipinos, and we want Greenfield District to be part of their memorable Christmas experience every year,” said GDC Executive Vice President and General Manager Atty. Duane A.X. Santos. 

Located at the corner of EDSA and Shaw Boulevard, Greenfield District is accessible to the public through various routes and roadways from the main business districts of Metro Manila, making it an ideal destination for recreational activities, get-togethers, and shopping this yuletide season.

Visit the Greenfield District with friends and family this holiday season.  To know more about the activities at Greenfield District, visit https://www.facebook.com/greenfielddistrict.

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