Chu said one of the priority programs of his administration is to stop illegal fishing “as our way of improving the living conditions of the people.”
“It is high time to care for the environment as a strategy for economic development,” Chu told some 70 summit participants in a training center at the center of the town’s well-known “talaba” farm and fish cage.
The local government of Kabasalan released P1-million livelihood assistance to talaba farmers last year to jumpstart the project. Another P100,000 was released early this year to expand the project to other communities. At present, some 381 poor fishing families have benefited from the project.
Lack of livelihood and employment opportunities usually pushed the poor people to do activities like illegal fishing and logging, Chu pointed out.
“It is very logical that if we provide them the means to earn money in a decent way, the people prefer to abide the law,” Chu said, as he declared his support to the coastal resource management summit.
The summit, dubbed “Cruising Sibugay: 2nd Coastal Resource Management Summit,”
officially starts today with Kabasalan town as the kick-off area. It is organized by the Philippine Environmental Governance Project (EcoGov 2 Project) funded by the United States Assistance for International Development (USAID).
The EcoGov2 Project is providing technical assistance to selected local government units (LGUs) on coastal resource management (CRM). The CRM sector seeks to reduce illegal and destructive fishing and at the same time regulate fishing effort through the improvement of management practices of coastal management zones and the strengthening of marine protected areas (MPAs) in strategic areas in the Philippines.
The 1st Coastal Resource Management Summit of Zamboanga Sibugay was held in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay last year. It was participated in by all 13 coastal municipalities of the province.
A joint declaration of support for the protection and proper management of Sibuguey Bay and Dumanquilas Bay together with their commitment to cooperate, collaborate and participate in protection and management activities was signed during the summit.
Among the major activities undertaken was the formulation of a unified fisheries ordinance for the 13 coastal municipalities of the province. The draft ordinance was completed last October 2007 and ready for review by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan prior to adoption by the respective local government units.
Core members of the technical working group for all coastal towns and the provincial government have also undertaken a series of trainings on information and education campaign, navigation and plotting, and biophysical monitoring of corals and reef fishes.
The main objective of the summit, according to the organizers, is for “the participants from various municipalities in the province to determine the actual status and share experiences on the different initiatives and catalyze possible collaborative efforts particularly on enforcement and biophysical monitoring and evaluation.”
“If we start to care for the environment, the environment will take care of us,” Chu told the crowd composed of representatives from the 13 coastal local government units of the province, the provincial government, and national line agencies as he expressed optimism that his strategy will earn dividends for the local government and the people in the end.
“I want this place to be known as illegal fishing-free municipality,” Chu concluded. (Antonio M. Manaytay/MindaNews contributor)