5 governors commit to protect Visayan Sea
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Five governors committed to strengthen efforts in protecting and conserving the Visayan Sea, one of the country's largest fishing ground.
On Friday, September 28, Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, and Capiz Governor Antonio del Rosario, as well as representatives of the governors of Cebu and Masbate, signed an agreement to adopt and implement the framework for the conservation, restoration, and protection of the Visayan Sea.
Under the management framework, the agreement sought to have a common vision for the Visayas Sea:
- Restore fishery resources and rehabilitate habitats of the Visayan Sea.
- Sustain livelihoods – both fishery and non-fishery related – through enhanced capacities and equitable access to available resources.
- Establish an efficient and effective governance structure with improved fishery law compliance and enforcement that addresses socio-economic security and ecological integrity.
The agreement was signed at the 10th Visayan Sea Summit in Oton, Iloilo on Friday.
The Visayan Sea, located in the central part of the Philippines, is recognized as an area with the most diverse shore fish species, as well as the highest concentration of reef species in the world. (READ: Marine scientist calls for stronger action to protect Philippine seas)
Wilfredo Ramon Peñalosa, Negros Occidental's provincial environment management officer, said the 5 provinces will start adopting a unified approach in implementing the framework.
"Visayan Sea is one of the country's richest marine biodiversity. We need to manage it as a whole," he said, adding that a science-based approach will be simultaneously implemented by the provinces as recognition of "the marine resources as one ecosystem and no boundaries." (READ: Why we must protect our seas)
A technical working group was tasked to help with the technical aspect of the program, as well as the unified enforcement protocol for illegal fishing in the waters surrounding the Visayan Sea.
The TWG is composed of representatives from the 5 provinces, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), schools, and non-governmental organizations. (READ: ‘For the next generation’: Iloilo fishermen take lead in coastal management)
For the last 10 years, provincial officials have been meeting regularly to discuss how environmental laws and policies can be strictly enforced and strengthened in the Visayan Sea. The BFAR leads the conservation effort.
The province of Capiz only joined the effort this year after they found out recently that the Visayan Sea covers some parts of their locality. – Rappler.com