Bicol celebrates World Ocean’s Day Thru Legal Environmental Forum
Legaspi City – The fisheries bureau in Bicol spearheads the celebration of the World Ocean’s Day thru a Legal Environmental Forum on June 8, 2015 in Legaspi City.
The World Ocean’s Day theme for 2015, “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet” is highlighted by this year’s consolidation and advancement of stakeholders’ wins against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF) in the Bicol Region.
Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines, explained that “the objective (of this activity) is to celebrate the victory of the efforts of stakeholders against IUUF particulary in Burias-Ticao Pass. Since we started the campaign in 2012 until today, there is a significant reduction of presence of commercial fishing vessels and increase of productivity, mainly because of strong coordinated enforcement in Burias-Ticao Pass. We need to protect that victory by providing legal tools to stakeholders such as Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP), 700 Daloy and Republic Act 10654. Greenpeace Philippines calls to declare Burias-Ticao Pass as a protected seascape so that it will be sustainably managed.”
Revolutionary provisions of RA 10654 (an Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing amending RA 8550, otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998) and the New Rules of Procedures for the Enviornmental Cases and the problems of overfishing were discussed by Carmela Concepcion of BFAR, and Atty. Benjamin Cabrido, Jr. of the Philippine Earth Justice Center, Incorporated.
A local commitment setting against IUUF and areas of collaboration were also discussed by stakeholders.
“The workshop focused on how to operationalize the Burias-Ticao Pass, how to make the RLECC more creative and how to see the Ligao Task Force as a composite team,” Cinches said.
The activity culminated with the giving of recognition for the efforts and roles of the active partners/stakeholders in the advocacy to end IUUF, especially the local government units of Pilar, Ligao, Donsol and Pioduran and their people’s organizations.
Lito Pavia, Head of Anti-Illegal Fishing and Fisheries Aquatic Resources Protection Task Force of Ligao City said that the task force composed of BantayDagat members, BFAR, Philippine National Police, Philippine Army, LGU Ligao and Office of the Congressman, receive full support from their City Government of Ligao and the Office of the Congressman, Fernando Gonzales. He claimed that the task force was successful in eliminating the illegal fishing in the waters of Ligao. He quotes, “If we did not work, who will do it? If not now, when?.”
The activity is a joint effort of BFAR Bicol, Greenpeace Philippines, Bicol Consortium for Development Initiatives, Ecofish Project, various civil society organizations, member agencies of the Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Council (RLECC) thru its Sub-Committtee on Fishing and Marine Environment Protection, Local Government Units of Pilar, Donsol, and Pioduran, Claveria, City Government of Ligao and the fisherfolk sector.
BFAR Bicol Regional Director Dennis del Socorro cited the bureau’s stronghold were these local partners, with the pivotal support from the active non-government organizations in curbing illegal fishing activities especially in Burias-Ticao Pass. RD Del Socorro added, “we all have to take care of the oceans as it takes care of us. We depend much on the oceans, thus it is imperative that we must bring back any benefit that we derive from it. We encourage our partners and friends to take care of the oceans and to make small actions to protect and safeguard it. In this way, we can consolidate it to become bigger and have an impact – for it is our efforts, it is our wins!”