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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Keep fishing ban in parts of Or. Mindoro—BFAR

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Meanwhile, the coastal waters in Clusters 4 (Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay, Bulalacao) and Cluster5 (Puerto Galera, Baco, San Teodoro) were found to be within acceptable standards for fishing activities. The provincial government of Mindoro may consider the resumption of fishing activities in these municipalities.

The DA-BFAR will continue monitoring oil spill-hit areas for a time-series observation, which will be the basis of its recommendations for concerned government agencies and local government offices.

To help municipal fisherfolk affected by the imposition of fishing bans, the BFAR has recommended alternative fishing grounds in coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government. These are the municipal waters of Paluan, Abra de Ilog, San Jose, and Magsaysay in Occidental Mindoro; Boac and Gasan in Marinduque; and Concepcion in Romblon. Subsequently, the DA-BFAR will provide them with fuel subsidies as additional assistance.

Moreover, the BFAR was eyeing over P117.86 million worth of emergency and relief assistance, early recovery efforts, and medium term-to-long term recovery aid to the oil spill-hit areas.

Of this amount, P4.4 million was already spent for post-harvest training for various fisherfolk associations and cooperatives and over P1.5 million was utilized for food assistance to more than 5,000 affected fisherfolk in MIMAROPA. Millions of pesos worth of funds was also allocated for the ongoing grant and capacity building efforts of fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) boats with marine engines to affected fisherfolk in Oriental Mindoro. In addition, the Bureau has deployed monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) vessels, as well as PPE sets and other materials for clean-up activities.

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Supplementary interventions are in the pipeline, including the grant of additional FRP boats, fish aggregating devices, aquaculture feed mill projects, milkfish fry, tilapia fingerlings, and fish cages to areas affected by the oil spill.

ALONG with five provincial governors, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is calling for protection of the Verde Island Passage from the oil spill.

 DENR Secretary Antonia Loyzaga, together with the governors of the five provinces surrounding Mindoro island, was urging for the so-called Amazon of the Seas to be declared as a protected area by law.

“This highest level of protection for what is touted as the center of the world’s marine biodiversity will keep VIP as a sanctuary to thousands of marine species and off limits to business activities that will threaten its pristine ecosystem,” Loyzaga said.

She met with governors Hermilando Mandanas of Batangas and Presbitero Velasco Jr. of Marinduque to discuss the threat to VIP of the oil spill.

 A part of the Coral Triangle, the VIP was regarded by experts as the “center of the center of marine shore fish biodiversity” in the world.

It is home to over 300 coral species, 170 fish species and thousands of marine organisms, such as sharks and turtles, and provides livelihood and other benefits to over two million people.

 The marine corridor is surrounded by the provinces of Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque and Romblon.

Loyzaga said the VIP is currently a marine protected area, citing the governors wanted it to be a legislated protected area.

“That will involve five provinces moving together to get this whole area legislated. Why is it important? Critical reefs, critical seagrass beds, mangroves, fisheries, these are spawning areas for fish, livelihood is dependent on that, and it has an implication on climate change as well,” she stressed.

 Last April 25, Loyzaga met with the board members of the Verde Island Passage Marine Protected Area Network and Law Enforcement Network to discuss the development of a VIP-wide Disaster Prevention and Response Plan.

“Considering its mandate, the DENR is committed to strengthening the protection and management of the VIP as a priority conservation area,” she said.

Under the arrangement, the DENR shall call for an immediate meeting to activate Executive Order 2006-578 establishing the National Policy on Biological Diversity to include other national government agencies and local government units.

The DENR shall also explore options for claims from the international oil spill contingency funds, and convene the interim Protected Area Management Board for the legislation of VIP as a protected area.

“Since the early part of 2020 just before the pandemic, there are a number of proposed development projects like submarine cable/pipe laying and jetty construction, to be implemented within the globally significant VIP. With this, there is a need to study what possible regulations may be imposed to ensure that there is a balance between development and conservation,” Loyzaga said

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