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Can we still feast on fish?

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos October 21,2018 - 09:06 PM

Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos

The title of my article today is culled from the theme of the public forum convened by Oceana Philippines (of which I am Vice President) and the Social Weather Stations (SWS) last week titled, “Feasting or Fasting on Fish.”

In that event, SWS and Oceana released the result of the survey conducted in September 2017 on the opinion of the Filipinos on Fisheries, Marine Resources and our Oceans.

As the SWS Vice President, Ms. Linda Bacungan Guerrero, emphasized, it was pioneering for SWS as it is the first time that such was conducted on the subject matter.

Ms. Guerrero of SWS presented the technical details of the survey, and sociodemographic characteristics of the respondents.

I gave the survey outcome. Among the findings are that most Filipinos think that fish is now more expensive, smaller, fewer and of less variety than ten years ago. This validates scientific findings and anecdotal narrations from our artisanal fisherfolk that our fishing grounds are overfished and fish populations are declining.

The awareness of our status as one of the top producers of fish and fish products in the world and our laws on fisheries is quite low.

The result revealed a disconcerting glimpse into why, despite our recognized and vaunted marine wealth, and being one of the top producers of wildfish and sea products in the world, our fisheries badly need resuscitation through sustainable, science-based management interventions. Else, we will be fasting on fish.

A copy of the presentation can be downloaded from the website of Social Weather Stations,

It is disturbing to realize that we have taken for granted the fact of our being an archipelago and the tremendous marine ecosystem services and benefits it offers — food, livelihood, climate regulation, coastal protection, recreation and more — that have benefitted us since time immemorial.

It is timely that President Duterte issued Proclamation No. 316 last year declaring the month of September as the Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month (MANA Mo).

But, just having an awareness month is simply not enough. Our agencies need to work closely together and with the various stakeholders in ensuring that our oceans rebound to its former health.

The Fisheries Code, as amended by RA 10654, has to be enforced.

Likewise, policy makers and advocates have to collaborate on developing and implementing strong IEC campaigns in media platforms, including social media, to enhance stakeholder engagement in fisheries management.

The willingness of many Filipinos to help protect our marine resources and our oceans was a very encouraging upshot and should be tapped.

We thank Dr. Druzila Bayate of BFAR, DILG’s Carlo Tan, Dennis Calvan of Rare and Pablo Rosales of Pangisda Pilipinas for sharing their views on the presentation, and the following: SWS President, Dr. Mahar Mangahas, who gave the closing remarks and SWS Communications and IT Director

Leo Laroza, who moderated the forum, Ms. Guerrero and our Oceana Team, for ensuring a highly successful public forum.

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TAGS: fish, OCEANA Philippines

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