‘Uniform coastal policies to make Panay Gulf sustainable’
Along the identification of fishingzones, the SICRMC also addressed problems of illegal fishing activities in thePanay Gulf. This year, the neighboring municipalities agreed to reactivate thecouncil to better manage the area through uniform policies and identifyspecific fishing zones. The partnership with the coastguard was stopped, however, because fundswere lacking for the operation. The municipal agriculturists pushedfor the reactivation of the Southern Iloilo Coastal Resource Management Council(SICRMC) to oversee the implementation of ordinances and the management of the coast “consistent with thegoals of sustainable development.” INTEGRATEDZONING In defining the areas in the gulf, different zones for specific fishinggears, mariculture areas, fishpond areas, shell collection, and fish santuarieswere also identified. Without a uniform policy to govern thefive municipalities’ resource management programs, towns would not be obligedto follow their neighboring municipalities’ ordinances, leading to conflict intheir common fishing grounds, he explained. BY ANGELIKA N. BUERGO Expounding his point further, Monroysaid, “If San Joaquin ceases all fishing activities in a certain month whileMiag-ao declares an open season for fishing at the same time, there would be aproblem since none of them are actually required to follow the other town’spolicy.” To sort out these issues, the local government units partnered with theUniversity of the Philippines Visayas’ Institute of Fisheries Policy and Development Studies (IFPDS)to act as an advisory body for the council. University Extension Specialist ofIFPDS Gena Serofia narrated that during theactive years of the council, a partnership with the coastguard was formed tomonitor the coastal activities which resulted to the diminished number ofillegal fishers in the Panay Gulf. “With the reactivation of the SICRMC,part of the plan is also the rehabilitation of the resources and providingtraining for the fisher folk,” said Nequia “Once your resources are good, thereare enough fishes nga mabuol ang fisherfolks,therefore, ma-increase man andang income to be provided fortheir family. So connected gid ang pag-rehabsa resources sa livelihood,” she added./PN ILOILO – Municipal agriculturists inthe southern towns of Miag-ao, Oton, Tigbauan, Guimbal, and San Joaquin havecalled for uniformity and synchronization in the implementation of policiesregarding their common coast, the Panay Gulf. “The council was not able to sustain the monitoring of the coastbecause gasoline for boats and payment for labor for those who will monitorwere very expensive,” Serofia explained. Agricultural Technologist Eden Nequia espoused that the integrated zoningplan serves as a spatial plan or map that indicates different zones fordifferent fishing gears. “Ang goal niya is to avoid multiple use [of fishing gears] conflicts,” shesaid. “One of the accomplishments [of the council], ang illegal fishing activities naghagan-hagan,” she said. REHABILITATION ANDLIVELIHOOD Rehabilitation of coastal resources such as mangroves and livelihoodprograms for fishermen will also be one of the primary goals for there-establishment of the SICRMC. The reactivation of the SICRMC wasrequested in a meeting attended by representatives from the five municipalitiesin August. The SICRMC aims to address this by employing “other means” of incomefor the fishermen and conducting programs for the rehabilitation of the coast. Panay Gulf or the Southern Iloilo Coast spans 60 kilometers and covers73 coastal barangays. It is also a source of livelihood for 73,000 residents. Nequia explained that the the zoning plan regulates the use of fishinggears by assigning a specific zone in the shared coast depending on the fishinggear used. The council was established in 2002with Miag-ao as the first host municipality, and went on hiatus duringTigbauan’s turn. ILLEGALFISHING The officials are hoping for additional support from the provincialgovernment and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for the reactivationof the project. The council noted significant decline in the productivity of thecoastal waters in the Panay Gulf due to illegal fishing activities anddestruction of coral reefs and mangroves. An integrated zoning plan was adopted by the council to define themunicipal terriotorial waters. Miag-ao municipal agriculturist Raymundo Monroy, also one of theSICRMC’s Board of Trustees, said the reactivation of the council will enableuniformity and synchronization of ordinances in the five municipalities. “Nakitanamin na kailangan uniform ang intervention na gagawin ng five municipalities para maging successful ang coastal resource managementprogram,” said Monroy. Due to disagreements between thetown’s heads during the early years of the council, SICRMC ceased to functionand the five municipalities decided to create their respective coastalmanagement plans and fishing ordinances.