<figcaption>Fish wardens in Batangas. Credit: Courtesy of Jesiderio De Los Reyes</figcaption>
Fish wardens in Batangas. Credit: Courtesy of Jesiderio De Los Reyes

A large fishing vessel stealthily slides into protected waters off the province of Batangas, in the Philippines. Fish warden Jesiderio De Los Reyes, who lives in the local village, spots the ship and punches a text message into his cell phone. The message, roughly translated, reads: "Commercial fishing boat in Pagapas Bay. Net already in use. Boat is white, in front of village of Balitoc." In a few moments he receives a text confirmation: "Ok, we proceed to your place." Backup teams of fish wardens arrive within minutes, along with armed members of the Philippine National Police.

This area in the Philippines, on the southern coast of the main Luzon Island, is the most diverse area in the world for marine life and a popular tourist attraction. Much of that, however, hangs in the balance. When Terrence Gosliner, a...

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