Crisis management, Philippine style

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos August 26,2018 - 09:26 PM


Facing crisis has become a regular fixture in the governance landscape as the recent Xiamen Air mishap has clearly shown.

It reveals a lack of propensity for visioning, long-term planning and implementing policies and goals.

The response usually is knee-jerk, and therefore not sustainable.

Another “crisis” engulfing our country, which agriculture officials finally admit exists, is the alarming state of our fisheries.

The center of the center of marine biodiversity in the world, possessing one of the world’s longest coastlines, is embarking into fish importation for domestic consumption.

Whatever happened to one of the world’s top producers of wildfish? In 2015, the Philippines ranked 9th among the top fish producing countries in the world with its total production of 4.5 million metric tons of fish and other aquatic resources, constituting 2.3% of the total world production.

It is not as if the crisis happened overnight. It has long been felt for decades. Since 2000, scientists have proposed policies to counter overfishing and to have sustainable and effective fisheries management.

These were set aside presumably because some interests will be affected.

Beginning 1990s, artisanal fisherfolk already called the attention of our government that their fish catch dwindled.

They had to spend 8-10 hours in the sea to catch the fish to feed their family and for their livelihood.

They also alerted government of the banned commercial fishing happening in municipal waters.

But, they fell on deaf ears. Worse, the authorities owned some of the vessels and others would castigate enforcers for doing their job. Thus, enforcement remains quite weak.

Kudos to the heroic men and women in some enforcement agencies who continue to perform the mandates of their office and remain strong in protecting our ocean.

Illegal fishing remains the number one problem. In 2014, our biggest fish market, the EU, slapped a yellow warning to the government for failure to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

We passed the amendatory law to the Fisheries Code, RA 10654 for stronger measures against illegal fishing. The EU warning was lifted. Unfortunately, the changes are slow in coming.

There is hope, of course.

In April 23 this year, the Department of Interior and Local Government issued guidelines to the coastal local governments, to regulate and closely monitor their respective municipal waters.

BFAR and LGUs are mandated to have science-based policies and rules on harvest control and reference points, have catch data and assess the state of each municipal waters and fishing grounds.

In addition, vessel monitoring devices have to be installed for vessels with 3.1 and over gross tonnage, with no exception, and clearly required as stiff measures to stop and deter illegal fishing.

Authorities should study the law before implementing policies which can make them susceptible to administrative, criminal and civil actions from long-suffering fisherfolk, citizens, consumers and civil society groups.

They are your constituents too.

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TAGS: crisis, management, Philippine, style

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