Tawi-Tawi is a distant island in the Philippines archipelago, not far from Malaysia. The waters surrounding the island are pristine and rich with marine life. This rich natural resource is under increasing threat as illegal fishing and smuggling are on the rise due to the rapidly growing demand for fresh seafood across southeast Asia and beyond. “Dynamite and cyanide fishing are rampant,” says Tawi-Tawi’s governor. These illegal practices destroy delicate marine ecosystems, threatening the livelihoods of the island’s fishing communities.
The 700DALOY (Dedicated Alert Lines for Ocean Biodiversity) hotline – which runs on SMART’s web-based SMS platform – was piloted in Tawi-Tawi and will eventually be launched in other parts of the country. Under this program, SMART subscribers in Tawi-Tawi can anonymously send SMS reports about maritime violations to 700DALOY. This program is part of the Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (Ecofish) project of BFAR and USAID, which seeks to promote an ecosystem-based fisheries management where fishing vessel registration is also essential.