SURIGAO CITY, Surigao del Norte, Apr. 1 -- With an aim to formulate a unified fisheries ordinance in each municipality in Dinagat Islands and to strengthen partnership and coordination with local governments to address the occurrence of illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing (IUUF), a training was conducted recently by the Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Fisheries and Natural Resources (DA-BFAR) Caraga led by 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 held on March 4 to 6 at the Provincial Governor's Conference Hall in San Jose, Province of Dinagat Islands.
It was attended by the local chief executives, vice mayors, Sangguniang Bayan chairperson 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.
Provincial Agriculturist Oswaldo T. Borja, in his message, reminded the participants of the local government units' (LGUs') 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.
"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 said.
As one of the resource speakers, Atty. Asis G. Perez, former BFAR national director and currently the Senior Adviser of Tanggol Kalikasan, facilitated the identification of the activities in the respective municipal waters that the community wants to allow but has to be regulated as initial step in the formulation of their respective unified fisheries ordinances.
Perez emphasized that municipal fisheries ordinances, to be unified, should be consistent and complementary with each other.
"It is very important that you have this level of coordination so that the ordinances that you have are consistent with the others," said Perez.
The status of the fisheries resource in Dinagat Islands with notes from Fisheries Management Area (FMA) 8 was also reported by Joyce Baclayo, DA-BFAR National Stock Assessment Program (NSAP) project leader, in order for the local government units to have an overview of their resource.
Meanwhile, chief aquaculturist Sandra Victoria R. Arcamo of DA-BFAR Central Office discussed the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management wherein she emphasized that "conservation is finding a balance between ecological well-being and human well-being through good governance for future generations."
Arcamo also said that at least 15 percent of the total municipal waters should be set aside for marine protected areas (MPAs).
The legal framework for the delineation and delimitation of municipal waters and the importance of delineation and its methods and activities were also presented.
"As of February 29, 2020, we have delineated some 928 coastal cities and municipalities in the Philippines but only 311 are certified," said Engr. Mario A. Princer of the Maritime Affairs Division of the Department of Natural Resource and Environment - National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (DENR-NAMRIA), adding that part of the FOs should be the delineation of municipal waters as mandated by law.
Citing the crucial role of management plan in the establishment of MPAs, Rene Zaldy Porlaje BFAR's Fisheries Resource Management Division said that MPA management plan provides a direction, reduces the risk of uncertainties, and reduces overlapping and wasteful action. "It also promotes innovative ideas, facilitates decision-making, and establishes standards for controlling," Porlaje added.
The activities would be instrumental in the implementation of all fishery laws and regulations.
"Our efforts should not end in the enforcement alone. We need to look forward to the future of our aquatic resources, and 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," said Gov. Arlene "Kaka" J. Bag-ao.
Gov. Bag-ao clarified that the unified FOs does not mean a single fisheries ordinance for the entire province. It means that they have seven ordinances with similar provisions, in terms of enforcement and regulation, and definition of illegal fishing. It should also reflect the unique features of their respective municipalities, as these will be the bases for the development ofthe 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 embark on 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," Gov. Bag-ao underscored.
Moreover, according to Deprtment of the iInterior and Local Government (DILG) provincial Director Domingo E. Bulabog 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.
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. (BFAR-Caraga/VLG/PIA-Surigao del Norte)