ENVIRONMENTAL conservation groups are opposing the passage of a Toledo City ordinance that allows “small-scale commercial fishing” within the city’s waters, which is part of the Tañon Strait, a protected area.
In their position paper, officials of Oceana, Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC) and the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) opposed the passage of Ordinance 2018-004, saying it violates Republic Act (RA) 11038, or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area System (ENIPAS) Act of 2018, and RA 10654, or the Amended Fisheries Code.
The ordinance, passed in July this year, regulates the conduct of small-scale commercial fishing within Toledo City’s waters and allows fishing operations within the 10.1-kilometer to 15-kilometer limit starting from its coastline.
Oceana Philippines vice president Gloria Estenzo-Ramos said Toledo City, a component city along the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape, cannot pass the ordinance based on environmental, legal and social equity considerations.
She said that the ordinance violates the social justice provision of the 1987 Constitution and the amended Fisheries Code, which says that the state shall protect the rights of subsistence fishermen, especially local communities, to the preferential use of the communal marine and fishing resources, both inland and offshore.
Ramos also asked if the Toledo City Council provided the necessary measures to ensure that the content of the ordinance is disseminated to the proper sector.
“It is not known whether the City, before enacting the ordinance, conducted the required process of public consultation and ensured that the ordinance is congruent with the goal of protecting and conserving the marine resources as clearly stipulated in the approved General Management Plan of Tañon Strait,” Ramos said.
They recommended, among other things, that the City must integrate the amended Fisheries Code to its ordinance and prioritize the conservation of its marine wealth and the protection of its fisherfolk. (JKV)