Cebu News

Coastal law enforcement group gets more support

May B. Miasco - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - With the participation of two more international environment conservation groups, the Coastal Law Enforcement Alliance Region-7 is optimistic that it can strengthen its goal to clear destructive and illegal fishing in Central Visayas.

In a workshop earlier this year, member agencies of CLEAR-7 discussed the roles of each group, including their new partners, Rare and Oceana.

Rare is a global conservation organization that helps locals adopt positive behaviors towards the environment, while Oceana is the largest international ocean conservation and advocacy organization that works to protect and restore the world’s oceans.

Raquel “Rocky” Sanchez-Tirona, Vice President for Rare Philippines, acknowledged the efforts of local government units which have worked together to preserve and manage the significant seascapes in the region.

Tirona considers it a highlight for the LGUs to reinstitute a network in fishery management, stressing that cities and municipalities are part of one ecosystem.

Lawyer Gloria Ramos, vice president of Oceana-Philippines, sees the reactivation of CLEAR-7, under the chairmanship of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-7, as a crucial step to ensure that there is coordination among members.

The organic members of CLEAR-7 started with at least 11 agencies but now have grown to 26 entities, including Rare and Oceana.

Founded in 2000, CLEAR-7 is a multi-agency and multi-sectoral group established to develop, pilot and implement an integrated coastal law enforcement strategy in Region-7.

BFAR-7 director Andres Bojos said the alliance can now better deter destructive and illegal fishing compared to the previous year, especially with the help of the private sectors.

“What is good now is that the civil society is now involved to the alliance. It’s not only an improvement or reactivation of the project but it is also an alliance of all stakeholders with civil society and local government units,” he said.

During the workshop, the alliance’s technical working group identified the top issues and concerns prevalent in the seven coastal waters surrounding the region, namely: the Visayan Sea, Camotes Sea, Danajon Bank, Cebu Strait, Bohol Sea, East Sulu Sea and Tañon Strait.

The issues include blast fishing and production and selling of blasting caps, intrusion of commercial fishing in the municipal waters, and land-based pollution, among others.

Bojos said the alliance came up with an initial list of identified areas or hotspots where these issues are rampant.  — (FREEMAN)

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