“Every local government executive who gives premium to fishery resources and fisherfolk welfare is worth emulating and they serve as a role model for good environmental governance,” said Oceana in a statement.
The statement of the international non-government organization was issued as local chief executives in different coastal municipalities showed commendable actions to protect the oceans and serve fisherfolks, amidst tremendous challenges posed by the COVID19 pandemic.
Strong enforcement actions against illegal commercial fishing continued in northern Cebu and Iloilo, according to reports that Oceana have received from coastal towns.
Moreover, it also shared that the fish harvested by fisherfolk like in San Ricardo (Southern Leyte) and bangus in fish farms in Alaminos (Pangasinan) were paid for by local governments and distributed as relief goods to its constituents. In Samar, fishers received cash assistance.
In Cebu, founding member LGUs of the Northern Cebu Alliance of Municipalities have successfully enforced fishery laws by supporting their respective Bantay Dagat teams for cross border patrolling of their contiguous municipal water jurisdictions.
These coastal LGUs in Cebu are composed of Sta. Fe, San Remigio, Medellin, and Bantayan.
In April 13, a commercial fishing boat operating illegally inside Bantayan waters were apprehended with the help of the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region VII Fishery Protection and Law Enforcement Group.
“We are not stopping coastal law enforcement efforts. Our joint enforcement teams continue to watch over illegal commercial fishing vessels entering our municipal waters and those engaged in other destructive means,” said Sta. Fe Mayor Ithamar Espinosa
The chief executives who are members of the Northern Cebu Alliance of Municipalities recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding indicating commitment to protect their municipal waters from the encroachment of commercial fishing vessels.
Effectiveness of efforts by LGUs
The efforts in Cebu have showed an increase of the fish catch as Mayor Espinosa have reported.
Fisherfolks in Sta. Fe town reported increase in fish catch from nothing to five kilos a day to or an average of 20 to 100 kilos each day when there is no illegal commercial fishing activities.
In Concepcion town in Iloilo Province, the campaign against illegal fishers were also sustained in spite the implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine.
Concepcion Mayor Raul Banias, who is a medical doctor, shared that there is no let up in the fishery law enforcement efforts to ensure that fishers continue to earn and residents are fed with nutritious food.
Oceana also cited the effectiveness of efforts by the Mayor Roy Salinas of San Ricardo (Southern Leyte) and Arth Bryan C. Celeste of Alaminos (Pangasinan) who helped out fishers earn money from their produce by buying the catch of fisherfolks and included them in the food relief package together with local agricultural crops of fruits and vegetables.
As a result, affected constituents of the community quarantine in San Ricardo and Alaminos have a fresh produce as food relief.
On the other hand, fishers in Arteche (Samar) who may not qualify in the Social Amelioration Fund under the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) are expecting support from their LGU through the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS). The marginalized sector, especially fishers, will be prioritized in AICS, vowed Mayor Roland Boie Evardone
LMP and Oceana commend LGU efforts
“We are happy that coastal mayors are stepping up to the challenge despite the fact that most of them belong to low-income class municipalities” said Andrea Loriaga, Executive Director of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP).
“We will encourage all other coastal mayors to share with us their good environmental practices,” she added.
In can be recalled that LMP and Oceana signed a Memorandum of Agreement to promote good practices in fishery sector.
“Fish is a staple food and a source of nutrition for majority of the Filipinos who are mostly living in coastal cities and municipalities,” Oceana Vice President Gloria Estenzo-Ramos
We also have millions of small, artisanal fisherfolk and fish workers who depend on fishing for their livelihood. It will be a win-win solution for all if our local governments continue to prioritize and extend their support and resources to help our artisanal fishers, and collaborate closely with national agencies and stakeholders,” added Estenzo-Ramos.
Oceana is an international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. Since 2014, Oceana has been working closely with national and local government agencies, civil society, fisherfolk and other stakeholders to restore the abundance of Philippine fisheries and marine resources.