The municipality of Caluya in Antique was awarded as the National Grand Winner in the recently concluded sixth edition of the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (DA-BFAR) Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan (MMK) on Tuesday, November 22, in Quezon City.

Caluya, Antique will receive P30 million worth of fisheries livelihood projects while second placer, Padre Burgos municipality in Southern Leyte, and third placer, Sagñay municipality in Camarines Sur, will get P18 million and P10 million worth of fisheries livelihood projects, respectively.

The MMK, which commenced in 2016, is the national search for the country’s outstanding coastal communities recognizing exemplary initiatives and accomplishment in coastal and fisheries resource management as well as documenting best practices and strategies of the winning municipalities. The 2021 MMK awarding ceremony was only conducted this year due to the COVID-19 restrictions in the communities.

The three outstanding municipalities were selected from five regional winners which included Balanga, Bataan and Cantilan, Surigao del Sur. The five regional winners, meanwhile, were hailed out of 42 participating coastal municipalities. The screening and selection processes were done starting June 2022.

“The Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources strategically develops comprehensive policies and frameworks to effectively provide sufficiently affordable food for generations of Filipinos by focusing on sustainable management of coastal and marine resources which are major sources of food and livelihood for people,” BFAR Officer-in-Charge Atty. Demosthenes R. Escoto said.

Participating coastal communities were evaluated according to the following criteria: (1) no illegal fishing; (2) observance of closed fishing season; (3) declared Marine Protected Areas; (4) clean, coastal waters without any garbage or industrial effluence flowing to the sea; and (5) effective mangrove protection and rehabilitation program.

“Ngayong buwan ay ipinagdiriwang din natin ang Pandaigdigang Araw ng Pangisdaan. Nawa ay mapaalalahanan tayo na ang isang malinis at masaganang karagatan ay lubhang mahalaga upang mapanatili ang produksyon ng isda sa bansa at manatiling buhay ang kabuhayan ng ating mga mangingisda,” DA Assistant Secretary for DA Wide-Field Inspectorate James A. Layug said.

The municipality of Caluya showcased exemplary accomplishments in preventing garbage disposal in their municipal waters. The LGU launched the Zero Plastic Waste Campaign through their Solid Waste Management Plan ordinance to combat plastic waste pollution. Additionally, the LGU established a material recovery facility which houses various equipment to process and transform plastic wastes into eco-bricks for the municipal ecopark.

The Padre Burgos municipality, meanwhile, has a commendable fisheries resources conservation and management with the establishment of eight Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Massive information and education campaign materials were produced to preserve the MPAs. The LGU also has eight mariculture parks engaged in milkfish culture and hatching areas for sea turtles which are indicators of a rich marine biodiversity.

Lastly, the municipality of Sagñay has an excellent fishery law enforcement implementation with ten regulations enacted through municipal ordinances, sangguniang bayan resolutions, and administrative orders. These regulations include the protection and conservation of coastal resources of the municipal water boundaries. The LGU also has regular fund allocation for coastal resource management.

“It is my hope that as the 2021 [MMK] winners are recognized, more people will be encouraged to participate in finding more sustainable ways to manage our natural resources,” President and DA Secretary Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. stated in a video message.

The three 2021 MMK winners also received plaques of recognition and trophies while the municipalities of Balanga and Cantillan were awarded with plaques of recognition.