Govs unite to restore Visayan Sea

Visayan Sea governors launched a new program to restore the riches of the sea during the 6th Visayan Sea Summit last April 21 in Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island. Present were first-time attendee Cebu Gov Hilario Davide III, Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon and representatives from Iloilo and Masbate provincial governments.

According to Atty. Tony Oposa, Visayan Sea Squadron chairman, the “restorative fishing” program aims to restore people’s love and reconnect them to nature. It encourages the people to give back and help in the conservation of the marine life.

The summit’s discussion identified illegal fishing and typhoon Yolanda’s ravage as the main causes of the deterioration of Visayan Sea’s marine resources.

New restoration tools were introduced such as fish condominiums and glass-bottom boats. Made out of bamboo, used fish net, and mix of limestone and cement, fish condominiums serve as new fish shelter for breeding and nursery. The glass-bottom boats show the people the sea’s condition underwater, Oposa explained.

Davide expressed that the province is in full-support of this program. “Kung kinahanglan mugasto, mugasto ta kay para ni sa atong kaayohan (we will spend for this because this is for our own benefit),” he added.

Marañon emphasized that marine resources are the richest; if protected and managed well, Filipinos will be the richest.

Davide also said that building fish condo and glass-bottom boats could be an alternative livelihood of the fisher folk. He emphasized the important role the community plays in this endeavor.

Around 200 fisher folk attended the summit to show their support. “We are one in the cause,” said Bantayan Back to Sea project head Allan Monreal.

Also at the summit, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional director Isabelo Montejo turned over a 26-ft long 4DR5 Fuso engine boat to the province that will serve as the official Visayan Sea research patrol and restoration vessel.

Oposa also introduced a three-storey disaster-resilient house on stilts, far from the seashore, with rainwater catchment facility and power supplied by solar and wind energy.

He also announced the launching of a Visayan Sea Sailing Regatta soon. Patterned after Talisay City’s “Balik Baroto ug Layag Na Ta”, organized by David “Boy” Odilao Jr., it aims to encourage the fisher folk to once again use sailboats while pursuing their livelihood, Oposa explained.