RECOGNIZING the vital role of the government in addressing fishery crisis in Negros, the private sector has lauded the manifested support of the two governors in improving the island’s sea resources.
Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said Governors Alfredo Marañon Jr. of Negros Occidental and Roel Degamo of Negros Oriental, recently signed a covenant supporting the development of the southern Negros seas.
Carbon said the covenant mainly manifests the two Provincial Governments’ commitment on improving the sea-based resources of Negros.
“The two Provincial Governments, with the two business chambers: the MBCCI and the Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci), along with the Siliman University as the focal institution, will now try to take a look at how to rehabilitate our sea biodiversity,” he added.
It can be recalled that in January this year, various sectors in Negros formed a partnership that will push for the concept of right fishing especially in the key biodiversity area of the island.
This multi-sectoral partnership will banner the Fish Right (FR) program of the United States Agency for International Development and the Philippine’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources along with a consortium of partners, mainly to develop southern Negros seas and boost support for fishing communities there.
MBCCI and Nocci form part of the project’s consortium of partners, which also include fishers, traders, concerned government agencies, private sector, civil society organizations like schools and media, and local government units (LGUs).
Carbon, who was at the said activity held in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental, said there is a need to regulate the fishing activities in the two provinces.
Regulating means eliminating over and illegal fishing, and implementing off-season to allow fish to breed, Carbon said.
“So we need the Provincial Governments, together with the cities and municipalities, to police the municipal waters. This is the major role of government sector in this project,” he said, adding that government should also make sure that its regulations are based on science.
Southern Negros forms part of the three areas in the country where the FR program exists. The other two are the Visayan Sea and Camanlanes Island Groups in Palawan.
It covers those identified as South Negros Marine Key Biodiversity Area encompassing the municipal waters from Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental to Cauayan town in Negros Occidental, or a total of 11 localities in the island.
Based on the project brief, local fishery crisis is attributed to declining fish catch because of dwindling fish stocks, rising prices of fish products, and fewer people, especially the poor, are able to afford fish and able to acquire good income from fisheries.
In order to address these conditions, the program introduces ways to improve fish-based food and protein security through an ecosystem approach to fisheries management including “right-sizing” when catching fish.
“Right-sizing” can be achieved through better policies, better management, more alternative income opportunities for fishers and traders, better education and public awareness on fishery issues and opportunities, and stronger citizens’ push and pressure for better fisheries.
The FR program also aims to achieve an average of 10 percent fish biomass in selected marine key biodiversity area, on top of enhancing sustainability by building partners capability, it added.
Carbon stressed that the rehabilitation should be followed by conservation and protection so fish catch can grow.
“When you improve the fish catch of the fishermen, then you increase their income. Also, women engaged in the fishing sector will also improve their income thereby improving their status and well-being in the community,” he added.
Carbon reiterated that 60 percent of the island’s population is in the shoreline and coastal barangays. The utilization of resources, though, is still more on the land and not in the fishery side.