Sibugay Unified Fisheries Ordinance up for adoption

Cleto Lanola, the regional coastal resource management specialist of EcoGov (Philippine Environmental Governance 2 Project), said the Unified Fisheries Ordinance (UFO) is due for review by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) and the subsequent review and adoption by the local government units in nine coastal towns.

Once adopted, Sibugay will join other areas with UFOs: Illana Bay in Pagadian City, Paguil Bay in Ozamiz City, and Lanuza Bay in Surigao City.

EcoGov, funded by the United Stated Assistance for International Development (USAID), provides technical assistance to local government units in the management of the environment, namely: Forest and Forest Land Management (FFM), Urban Environment Management (UEM), and Coastal Resource Management (CRM).

“Hopefully, it will be formally adopted by the first quarter of 2008,” Lanola said.

The UFO seeks to unify the efforts of the coastal local government units “to jointly implement and enforce the unified ordinance and work together within their common coastal ecosystem” to maximize resources in achieving food security as the overriding consideration in the utilization, management, development, conservation and protection of the common fishery resources.

The concept of a unified fisheries code was first broached during the First Coastal Resource Management Summit of the province conducted by EcoGov last 2006 in order to protect the deteriorating marine life in the nine coastal municipalities of the province along Sibuguey and Dumanquillas Bay. These areas are threatened due to unabated dynamite and sinamay fishing, intrusion by big commercial ishing boats, and presence of pirates.

Lanola said the formulation, implementation and enforcement of the UFO is necessary to minimize the damage, if not eradicate, the threat to the marine resources of the province.

The formulation of the UFO started with the review and analysis of existing fishery ordinances of the nine coastal towns. Then, the level of enforcement was determined, common provisions and enforcement systems were identified, and effective reporting system was developed.

In line with this, several workshops were conducted starting 2006 with the stakeholders of Sibuguey and Dumanquillas Bay Area, namely the members of the Sangguniang Bayan, fisherfolk organizations, municipal and provincial agriculture and environment officers, fishery officers, members of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils of each municipality, Philippine National Police- Maritime, and the local Philippine National Police.

“We are looking forward to an improved system of management, conservation, and utilization and protection of the coastal and marine resources of the province once this unified ordinance will be adopted,” he said.

It is to be expected that illegal activities will be minimized, increased revenues for the local governments from fisheries, and formal zoning of municipal waters, he said.

Zoning means that the municipal waters will be classified and marked according to use such as there will be specific zones for agar-agar, mariculture, protected area, recreational, navigation, and others. (Antonio Manaytay/MindaNews contributor)