Surigao del Sur town hailed the best coastal marine area in PH
BUTUAN CITY — The Municipality of Bayabas in Surigao del Sur has been declared the grand winner of the 2022 Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan (MMK) by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) during the culminating event of the 60th Fish Conservation Week at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City on September 22.
BFAR’s MMK search is designed to acknowledge exceptional initiatives and contributions made by coastal municipalities and cities towards sustainable fisheries development.
“The winners are evaluated based on five criteria, which are: no illegal fishing, observance of off-fishing season, declaration of marine protected areas, clean coastal waters without any garbage or industrial effluence flowing to the sea, and effective mangrove protection and rehabilitation program,” said Loida B. Arreglado, Chief of the BFAR-Caraga Fisheries Resource Management Section and focal person for MMK in the region.
Arreglado commended Bayabas for its comprehensive solid waste management practices, including the use of eco-bricks, and its rigorous enforcement of closed fishing seasons.
“This is the third time they’ve participated. They joined in 2020 but lost to Del Carmen, in 2021 they lost to Cantilan, and in 2022 they emerged as the regional winner. During the national evaluation, as per my own observation, their implementation improved every year,” Arreglado noted.
“In the initial years when they first participated, they still had some missing documents and hadn’t implemented anything yet. But in the following years, they had the required documents and started implementing their initiatives which is a huge plus. If other municipalities will just fill the missing documentation, the needed legislations, and then proper implementation, they will have the chance of making it,” Aregglado further said.
Municipal agriculturist Geralyn B. Guibao explained that Bayabas has a 10-day close season that aligns with lunar activity.
“During the first quarter, this is to allow the siganid species to spawn, as it is one of the major species not only in Bayabas but also in the entire province of Surigao del Sur,” she said.
Guibao also highlighted that fishermen in the area have alternative livelihoods, including the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) bangus culture project in Barangay La Paz Cagbaoto and the Fishcoral Project, an aquasilviculture initiative in Barangay Magabawak.
As a reward, the coastal town of Bayabas will receive P30 million worth of livelihood projects in fisheries. This victory marks the second time that the Caraga region and Surigao del Sur province have claimed the MMK title.
Cortes in Surigao del Sur was the inaugural recipient of this prestigious award in 2016 and was subsequently inducted into the MMK Hall of Fame for its consistent excellence as a coastal community.
Since the award’s inception in 2016, the Caraga region has consistently performed well, maintaining a spot in the top 5 grand finalists of the MMK competition every year.