Transparency in ocean governance

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos September 18,2016 - 09:34 PM

Last week, the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) — Artisanal Fisherfolk Sectoral Council spearheaded a consultation in Cebu City on the theme, “Effective Management of Tañon Strait as a Common Fishing Ground of a Cluster of Municipalities/Cities of Southwestern Cebu and Eastern Negros Province.” This important activity was held in partnership with Tambuyog Development Center, Protected Area Office of TSPS–PAMB and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

It was a lively engagement among stakeholders from local government units, with speakers from Cebu provincial government represented by DRRM Czar and acting head of the Cebu Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, Balthazar Tribunalo, Department of Environment and Natural Resources led by Undersecretary Isabelo Montejo and Regional Director Emma Milana, Regional Director Andres Bojos and Dr. Alan Poquita of the BFAR-7 and the representatives of Oceana, Rare and Tambuyog.

Very inspiring were the sharing of the best practices in sustainable fisheries management from local government units in Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Cebu. Counted among our award-winning and highly-respected local chief executives, Mayor Valentin Yap of Bindoy Negros Oriental took time out from his busy schedule to be with the participants. He exhorted science-based governance and consistent protection of our ocean.

Bindoy’s municipal waters have been rehabilitated from the rubbles of dynamite fishing in the 1990’s. It established marine protected areas and enforcement is in full gear. As a result, it has substantially enhanced food security with a yield of 4–5 kilos average for its artisanal fisherfolk. Its Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Council won the most outstanding MFARMC in the country this year. Its achievement shows that with political will of the leaders to enforce the law and the heightened awareness of the constituents to protect our marine ecosystems, sustainable use of our oceans can and should lead to a much-improved quality of life of our coastal residents.

Why then are our fisherfolk the poorest of the poor in the country? It is a question that requires concrete solutions from government and stakeholders.

For one, overfishing has led to the massive decline of our fish population. Illegal fishing is still rampant despite stronger features of the amended Fisheries Code. Local government units should stop using their ordinance with such measly fines and instead avail of bigger sanctions under RA 10654.

There can be no deterrence of illegal, unreported and unregistered (IUU) fishing if there is no genuine sincerity in enforcement by our local government units and coordination among the various national government agencies and the management body tasked to protect our seascapes.

The participants in the consultation gave a long list of recommended actions to the government which we hope will be given a positive response soonest.

* * *

In Washington DC last week, a significant milestone happened that should help restore the health of our oceans.

Leonardo DiCaprio announced the launch by Oceana, Skytruth and Google of the revolutionary Global Fishing Watch during Our Ocean Conference. It is the first global view of commercial fishing activity.

Global Fishing Watch is built for governments, seafood suppliers, journalists, researchers, NGOs, citizens, fishermen and more.

It allows governments to ensure fishing vessels are authorized to fish in their waters and pursue those that are not. It allows seafood suppliers to see where and how fish are being caught. It allows journalists and researchers to study the impact of fishing on ocean health. It allows everyone to see whether vessels are following the rules and for fishermen to make themselves trackable to show the world they are following the rules. Likewise, it allows non-government organizations and citizens to identify suspicious vessels and report them to the authorities

Indeed, “Global Fishing Watch is a powerful tool in the fight against illegal fishing,” says Oceana’s Jackie Savitz.

For Skytruth, “Global Fishing Watch will catalyze the science, policy-making & public pressure necessary to make our oceans sustainable.”

Already, the Indonesian government has committed to making all Indonesia’s registered fishing vessels with trackers public to the world through Global Fishing Watch. Indonesia deserves commendation for this strong stance for transparency in ocean governance.

Now, anyone in the world with an internet connection can track and monitor fishing activity around the globe in near real-time, for free. Check it out at www.GlobalFishingWatch.org – Now.

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TAGS: artisanal fisherfolk, Artisanal Fisherfolk Sectoral Council, fish, fisheries, fishery, fishing, NAPC, National Anti-Poverty Commission, Oceana, Rare

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