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Philippines Water Action: Saving the Fish for Another Day

Philippines Water Action: Saving the Fish for Another Day

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Published by: adbwaterforall on Oct 11, 2012
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Country water actions are stories that showcase water reforms undertaken by individuals,communities, organizations, and governments in Asia-Pacific countries and elsewhere.
Country Water ActionsPhilippines: Saving the Fish for Another Day
July 2007
ADB Web Writer 
PANGASINAN ,PHILIPPINES -Bienvenido Caasi, 62,considers himself lucky. After years of engaging in dynamitefishing, he still has allhis fingers intact.Other fishermen arenot as lucky.Mr. Caasi is no longerinto dynamite fishing these days but he still lives just asdangerously. As member of the "Bantay Dagat" (sea patrolvolunteer), he is on guard against commercial fishing boatsfrom other towns engaged in illegal forms of fishing in hisvillage in Macaleeng, Anda. The death threats he gets do notfaze him."I was just following the others," he said. "People fromother towns would come here and fish illegally. We knew wewere breaking the law but it was easy for us to get out of it.But I realized there was no future in this. Dynamite fishingwas destroying the corals and the small fish were dying. Sothis is my way of paying back what I destroyed."Mr. Caasi heads the Macaleeng Samahang Multi-Sectoral ngBarangay, which is responsible for guarding the 48.5hectare Panacalan Island Fish Sanctuary in his town. Benand his men guard the sanctuary in support of thegovernment through local laws formulated with the FisheriesResource Management Project (FRMP). Ben and his groupalso serve as tourist guides to visitors. The project providedthem the boat, binoculars, and communications equipmentfor their patrol duties.Nowadays, Mr. Caasi is still both a fisherman and aguardian of the sea. His efforts have enabled him toincrease his fish catch. And this time around, his conscienceis clear that he is not causing any damage to theenvironment.
Fisheries are a main source of livelihood for over a millionFilipinos. The Philippines has one of the world's richestbiogeographic areas with a wide diversity of marine life. It isa natural fishing ground with 150 million hectares of marinewaters surrounding its 7,107 islands with its 17,640kilometers of coastline. The FRMP is tasked to reverse the trend of decliningfisheries resources in municipal waters - the area within 15kilometers of the shore - caused by overfishing anddestructive fishing using dynamite, cyanide and fine meshnets. The project is being implemented in 18 out of the 26priority bays around the country, in 100 municipalcommunities and cities in 11 out of 15 coastal regions and23 provinces. Anda, enriched by Lingayen Gulf, belongs toone of two provinces being covered by the FRMP in theIlocos Region.It is a six-year project being implemented by theDepartment of Agriculture through theBureau of Fisheriesand Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and funded by ADB and theJapan Bank for International Cooperation. The project beganin 1998 and builds on the Government's Fisheries SectorProgram approved in the early 1990s, which was also madepossible through ADB assistance.
The project boasts of successfully increasingproduction of municipalfisheries by an annualaverage of 2.64% since1999. Enhanced habitatshave resulted in theimprovement in the volumeof fish catch and its sizes;certain species that havestayed away after years of destructive fishing have evenreturned.The project encouragessmall-scale fisherfolk to seekalternative forms of livelihood such as seaweedculture, milkfish deboning,fish drying, and grouper culture to augment their incomefrom fishing. As of May 2005, a total of 217 livelihoodprojects have been provided to about 6,619 beneficiaries.Non-government organizations help fisherfolk form self-helpgroups, mobilize savings, develop small businesses andrehabilitate and manage fisheries resources. 

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