Oceana PH marks 10 years of impactful ocean conservation advocacy

Oceana PH marks 10 years of impactful ocean conservation advocacy
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OCEANA Philippines, a leading global ocean conservation organization, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, and over the past decade, its advocacy has significantly impacted national fisheries reforms.

These reforms aim to restore the abundance of the Philippines' fisheries, marine habitats, and biodiversity. This, in turn, contributes to a healthier, more sustainable, and resilient future for Filipinos in the face of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Oceana Philippines' achievements include helping to implement reforms to combat illegal fishing, protecting crucial fish populations like sardines, and safeguarding vital habitats like mangrove forests.

The organization also played a role in establishing coastal greenbelt zones and is now pushing for a ban on single-use plastics in marine protected areas. Its work continues as Oceana strives for a more engaged citizenry, particularly among young people, to collaborate on achieving food security and holding accountable those who harm the Philippines' precious marine resources.

“The Philippines has been blessed with spectacular marine resources and bodies of water that are among the richest in the world when it comes to marine life,” said lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Oceana Philippine vice president.

“We advocate for policies that should be science-based. We have to ensure that experts are onboard, our scientists -- our fisherfolks themselves are scientists because mas alam nila ang dagat kaysa sa those people with Phd,” said lawyer Rhea Yray Frossard.

Oceana opened its office in the Philippines in 2014, at a very crucial time. The European Union, a major fish importer, threatened to ban Philippine fish due to illegal fishing practices. This threat sparked a wave of reforms, including the swift passage of a strengthened fisheries code (RA 10654) aimed at curbing illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Over the past decade, Oceana has collaborated with national and local governments, fisherfolk organizations, nongovernment organizations, and academics. Together, they have achieved significant policy victories and milestones. They have also implemented transparency, monitoring, and accountability tools to promote science-based and inclusive decision-making in fisheries management.

Filipinos rely heavily on sardines for affordable protein. To ensure this crucial resource remains available, 29 local governments in Samar and Northern Samar took a significant step. They adopted the National Sardine Management Plan through local legislation.

This plan safeguards sardine stocks, a budget-friendly source of protein consumed nationwide.

The implementation of this plan is a collaborative effort. Oceana played a key role, working alongside artisanal fisherfolk, academic institutions, and civil society organizations. Their combined efforts ensure the success of the National Sardine Management Plan.

They have dedicated efforts to safeguarding mangrove forests, recognized as vital barriers against the impacts of climate change. Through local legislation, expansive coastal greenbelt zones have been established across the nation.

At present, the Integrated Coastal Management/National Coastal Greenbelt Bill awaits deliberation in the Senate, following its successful passage in the House of Representatives.

Eighty-four local government units have taken proactive measures by designating specific areas as local coastal greenbelt zones, underscoring the collective commitment to coastal preservation and resilience.

By advocating for the preservation of mangroves and the establishment of coastal greenbelts, Oceana Philippines and its partners demonstrate a forward-looking approach to addressing environmental challenges and securing a more resilient future for coastal communities nationwide.

Collaboration with protected area management boards to issue resolution banning the perilous single-use plastic in nationally established marine protected areas, such as the Tubbataha Reefs National Park and Apo Reef National Park.

“Our campaigns to protect our ocean and safeguard our valuable, marine resources continue, and we look forward to a more engaged citizenry especially from the youth collaborating with Oceana to achieve even more for enhancing food and nutrition security and hold accountable those who are pillaging our vastly threatened marine resources of our nation,” said Ramos. (CAV)


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