DA-BFAR Holds Training on the Preparation of Unified Fisheries Ordinances; Establishment of Marine Protected Areas in Dinagat Islands
In accordance with the directive of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William D. Dar to empower local communities and instruction of the DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) National Director Eduardo B. Gongona to strengthen partnership and coordination with local governments to address the occurrence of illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing (IUUF), the DA-BFAR Caraga Region, through its Regional Director Visa Tan- Dimerin and its Regional Fisheries Management Regulatory and Enforcement Division (FMRED), in coordination with the Provincial Government Office of Dinagat Islands, convened the local chief executives, vice mayors, sanguniang bayan chair on agriculture, municipal agriculturists, agricultural technologists for fisheries, municipal environment and natural resource officers together with representatives from the Provincial Agriculture Office and BFAR Provincial Fisheries Office to guide the local government units (LGUs) in crafting their unified fisheries ordinances, last March 4 to 6, at the Provincial Governor’s Conference Hall in San Jose, Province of Dinagat Islands.
FMRED Officer-in-Charge Omnia Olama, of DA-BFAR-13, gave an overview of the activity:
“Caraga region is noted to have vast marine resources. In Dinagat Islands, you are known to be producers of lobsters, milkfish, seaweeds and other marine endowments. If you will not protect your coastal resources, this will result to depletion, that is why we are conducting this activity for you to come up with unified fisheries ordinances to holistically prevent IUUF activities in your province,” said the DA-BFAR FMRED Officer-in- Charge.
Provincial Agriculturist Oswaldo T. Borja, in his message, reminded the LGUs of their responsibility as cited in the Section 16 of the Philippine Fisheries Code as amended by RA 10654, which states that the municipal government shall have the jurisdiction over municipal waters. LGUs shall be responsible for the protection, for the conservation, for the management and utilization of all fishery and aquatic resources within municipal waters.
“Experience also has been observed that different municipalities have different municipal ordinances. We lack uniformity of our municipal fisheries ordinances (FOs), thus this activity is conducted for us to hopefully come up with a unified FOs,”
“Let us be united, let us continue working together, let us continue our battlecry - which is to deter and totally eliminate the illegal fishing activities in our province,” Borja added.
Conservation to investment
Provincial Governor Atty. Arlene J. Bag-ao also graced the activity and challenged the local government units:
“Our efforts should not end in the enforcement alone. We need to look forward to the future of our aquatic resources in that our direction should be to develop the fisheries industry in the province, as our source of economic activities that will augment income and alleviate the quality of lives of our fisherfolk and communities,” Governor Bag-ao said.
“We want to review your respective municipal fisheries ordinances in terms of its relation to your adjacent municipality; and we need to look into the similarities of the illegal fishing activities, so that we could have a common definition. We want to achieve that level,” the provincial governor added.
Governor Bag-ao clarified that the unified FOs does not mean a single fisheries ordinance for the entire province. It means that the have seven ordinances with similar provisions, in terms of enforcement and regulation, and our definition of illegal fishing. It should also reflect the unique features of your respective municipalities as these will be our bases for the development of our Provincial Coastal Resource Management Plans and Programs,”
“After this, the next challenge is how we are going to design our capital investments. We just want to lay down the foundation of what type of capital and business we are going to, depending on the nature of your fishery ordinances and to that of your partnership with the fisherfolk. You protect, you earn - that will be our theoretical framework in the province,” the Governor concluded.
Call to action
Provincial Director Domingo E. Bulabog of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) presented the Memorandum Circular MC 2018-147 or the Guidelines on the Implementation of the Fishery Compliance Audit (FishCA) to monitor the compliance of LGUs on the MC 2018-59 or the Policies and Guidelines on the Regulation and Monitoring of Fishery Activities in Municipal Waters.
Under the DILG MC 2018-59, all concerned Municipal Mayors, and Punong Barangays are required to observe the policies and guidelines on the monitoring, and regulation of fisheries activities in municipal waters.
These fishery activities include the establishment of municipal fisheries and aquatic resource management council, enactment of municipal fisheries ordinances, registration and issuance of license and permits, and monitoring of water quality and marine resources.
“The MC 2018-59 reiterates the existing national policy to ensure that LGUs must play an active role in coastal resource management (CRM), to hold them accountable to their action and inaction towards the monitoring and regulation of fisheries activities and
serve as a reminder and ensure that the law is strictly enforced, followed and implemented,” the DILG provincial director said.
Highlights from Resource Speakers
Serving as Resource Speaker, Atty. Asis G. Perez, the then BFAR national director and currently the Senior Adviser of Tanggol Kalikasan, set the tone for the said training and facilitated the identification of the activities in their respective municipal waters that they want to allow but has to be regulated as initial step in the formulation of their respective unified fisheries ordinances.
“You do have an important resource as an Islandscape. What do you want to do with that resource? Do you want it to be there forever? Or do you want to get it all today?,” Atty. Perez asked before the participants.
Perez also emphasized that municipal fisheries ordinances, to be unified, should be consistent and complimentary with each other.
“It is very important that you have this level of coordination so that the ordinances that you have are consistent with each other,” Atty. Perez underlined.
Joyce Baclayo, DA-BFAR NSAP Project Leader, also reported the status of the fisheries resource in Dinagat Islands with notes from Fisheries Management Area (FMA) 8, in order for the local government units to have an overview of their resource.
Chief Aquaculturist Sandra Victoria R. Arcamo, from DA-BFAR Central Office, highlighted the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management wherein conservation is finding a balance of between ecological well-being and human well-being through good governance for future generations.
The DA-BFAR chief aquaculturist also stressed that atleast 15 percent of the total municipal waters should be set aside for MPAs.
Engr. Mario A. Princer, from the Maritime Affairs Division of the Department of Natural Resource and Environment – National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (DENR-NAMRIA), presented the legal framework for the delineation and delimitation of municipal waters, the importance of delineation and its methods and activities.
“As of February 29, 2020, we have delineated some 928 coastal cities and municipalities in the Philippines but only are 311 certified,” the NAMRIA representative said.
“Part of your FOs should be the delineation of municipal waters as mandated by law,” Engr. Princer said.
Rene Zaldy Porlaje, from DA-BFAR’s Fisheries Resource Management Division, discussed the crucial role of management plan in the establishment of MPAs.
“MPA Management Plan provides you direction, reduces risk of uncertainties, reduces overlapping and wasteful action, promotes innovative ideas, facilitates decision-making, and establishes standards for controlling,” Porlaje said.
Assistant Regional Director Edgardo P. Balambao said that the outcome of the activity would be instrumental in the implementation of all fishery laws and regulation
It can be recalled that last year, the Regional Bureau held the Fisheries Law Enforcement Training for Local Chief Executives and Other Official in the same province.