The collaboration of the government agencies and private sectors for the conservation of the environment proved that working hand-in-hand produces positive results.
Oceana and Rare with the Cebu Provincial Government agreed to preserve the country’s biggest marine protected area, the Taňon Strait.
To strengthen the partnership of the involved key players, Atty. Gloria Estenso-Ramos of Oceana Philippines, along with the representatives of various organizations, met with Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Assistant Regional Director Allan Poquita and Atty. Chad Estella of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office.
Also, Bloomberg Philanthropies, an additional supporter for the cause of preserving the marine deposit in the province was welcomed during the meeting and press conference at the PB Lounge last Oct. 27.
Two of the Bloomberg Philanthropies officers, Susan Rufo and Antha Williams, purposely attended the meeting to introduce Vibrant Oceans Initiative program that was launched in 2014 to protect the supply of fish and keep the oceans thriving in the future.
“We are here to commend the Provincial Government of Cebu for taking a proactive stance in fighting illegal fishing and some marine issues,” said Atty. Gloria Ramos.
Oceana, Rare and the province of Cebu have successfully convened for the first time the 350-member Taňon Strait Protected Area Management Board this year.
This partnership also extends to public awareness campaigns, promotion of better law enforcement in the protected seascape and responsible management zoning.
Poquita revealed during an interview that the agency continues to provide trainings for alternative livelihood and law enforcement campaign to the fisher folks in the province.
He, too, said that the allocated budget of BFAR for Region 7 throughout the year is P40 million.
BFAR also gives out engines for patrol boats and the local government units provide the body of the boat as counterpart.
Meanwhile, Estella shared that there were several operations made to apprehend illegal fishing and transporting this year.
“For now, we are focusing on land-based operations since we are still in the process of procuring patrol boats. Also, we convened all the market administrators in Cebu and agreed to have a commitment of denying the entry of illegal marine species,” Estella added.
According to Ramos, one of the challenges in their advocacy is capacitating the prosecutors and judges to help strengthen the country’s legal framework for protection of the environment.
“For now, we are trying to reach out for education capacity building that they themselves admit they lack and it’s good because there’s openness from their side,” Ramos added.
This, after OCEANA called the attention of the Department of Justice to establish and implement the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 that provides the legal framework for the establishment and management of protected areas.
“We are happy that DOJ and the Prosecutor General move to have it established. As a result they already have the list of 13 special prosecutors who will be trained,” Ramos added.
OCEANA will help in the training and BFAR is committed to fund the project.
On the other hand, the general management plan for Taňon Strait which projects as the road map for all the policies of the project is on its way.