Oceana cites reforms in habitat protection, fisheries management | Inquirer News

Oceana cites reforms in habitat protection, fisheries management

/ 05:52 AM December 26, 2023

International advocacy group Oceana has lauded key government partners, the artisanal fisheries sector, academe and civil society organizations for helping achieve key milestones in ocean governance this year despite the “dismal” state of fisheries.

Although the Philippines has a “progressive” legal system designed to protect human and environmental rights, the state of fisheries remained bleak with the continuous illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, and destruction of marine habitats, the organization said.

But amid these challenges, Oceana vice president Gloria Estenzo Ramos noted a “reason to be optimistic” with habitat protection and fisheries management reforms in the past year.


“The Christmas season is not just a time for celebration and reunions but also affords us moments to pause and reflect if our actions in the past months and years have contributed significantly to make real reforms in ocean governance based on science and the law,” she said in a Christmas message.


Among the accomplishments that Ramos cited was President Marcos’ directive in June ordering the full implementation of the vessel monitoring system on all commercial fishing vessels.

“This is a significant step to ensure that the 15-kilometer zone from the shore, called municipal waters, is kept off limits from commercial fishing operations,” she said.

The move was welcomed by fisherfolk groups like Pamalakaya, which said that the Fisheries Administrative Order No. 266 would “regulate the unsustainable and often destructive method of fishing of commercial vessels.”

“Commercial fishing vessels usually swarm the 15-kilometer municipal waters, outcompeting and overwhelming the traditional and backward fishing methods of small fishers,” it said.

Ramos also cited the House of Representatives for approving on third reading House Bill No. 7767, or the Integrated Coastal Management/Coastal Greenbelt Bill that would require the restoration of mangrove forest areas and the establishment of local coastal greenbelt zones across the country.

“For the Philippines, [which] has one of the longest coastlines in the world, mangroves are our frontiers against storm surges and other climate change threats to coastal communities apart from carbon sequestration,” she said.


Oceana likewise noted the Bureau of Fisheries’ acknowledgment of the importance of sardines, which accounts for 15 percent of the country’s total fish catch, after it ordered the full implementation of the 2020 National Sardines Management Plan in all 12 Fisheries Management Areas nationwide.

READ: Oceana wants ‘Anti-Red Tape Act’ enforced in disaster response ops to avoid lapses

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TAGS: Fisheries, habitat, oceana

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