LGUs, Oceana beef up monitoring of municipal waters

The Philippine Star
LGUs, Oceana beef up monitoring of municipal waters

MANILA, Philippines — International non-government organization Oceana and the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) have agreed to further strengthen the monitoring of municipal waters and protect them from illegal fishing.

Oceana and LMP recently renewed their partnership.

The management of municipal waters is devolved to coastal municipal and city local government units in accordance with the Local Government Code of the Philippines and the Fisheries Code of the Philippines.

Majority of municipal LGUs of the Philippines are in the coastal areas and all are members of the LMP.

LMP secretary general Cynthia Fortes said LMP is committed to protect the natural resources of its member-municipalities as illegal and unregulated fishing remain to be the scourge in many coastal communities.

“The most common violations include intrusion of commercial fishing vessels in municipal waters, the use of dynamite fishing, and the use of poison in fishing,” she said.

Other violations, such as use of fine mesh nets, destruction of marine habitat, poaching, illegal trade of aquatic wildlife species, and marine pollution remain as concerns in certain parts of the country.

Oceana vice president Gloria Ramos, for her part, said the group’s renewal of partnership with LMP is very timely as it presses for enhanced efforts to address overfishing, partly the result of illegal fishing taking place in municipal waters.

“Apart from destroying our fragile marine ecosystems, this has caused declining fish population and thus, displacement of poor artisanal fishers from their traditional fishing grounds,” she said.

Oceana and LMP agreed to jointly organize a core group of municipal mayors from among coastal municipalities who will champion the cause of promoting sustainable fisheries, convene regular policy dialogues among coastal municipal mayors on key fishery issues such as but not limited to illegal commercial fishing, marine habitat protection, and promoting the ban on single-use plastics.

They will also develop and disseminate relevant information, education and communication materials related to fisheries policy and enforcement, including the establishment of fisheries management areas and its positive implications on fisheries management in municipal waters.

Apart from this, they will promote Karagatan Patrol and other public reporting and feedback mechanisms that may be jointly developed.

They will likewise promote policies and ordinance banning or regulating single-use plastics to encourage policies and ordinance banning or regulating single-use plastics, and conduct specialized courses for local chief executives on coastal and fisheries policies and enforcement.

Karagatan Patrol is an online platform for mayors, law enforcers, and citizens to share information and to report illegal commercial fishing in municipal waters.

It informs the public of news, leads, or information provided to law enforcement agencies – local government units, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Philippine National Police, PNP Maritime Group, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Navy, and the National Coast Watch Center.

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