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Committee on Ecology Approved ICM Bill on First Reading

On August 12, 2015, the Committee on Ecology, which was presided over by Congressman Amado Bagatsing, approved House Bill ___ or the Integrated Coastal Management Bill on first reading. The Bill’s principal sponsor, Party-list Representative Raymund Democrito Mendoza of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines thanked the NGOs for Fisheries Reform, Inc. (NFR) in assisting in the refinement of the ICM Bill. NFR in collaboration with the UNDP PEMSEA, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources through the Biodiversity Management Bureau, German Technical Cooperation and the Department of Agriculture through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources conducted regional consultations, which culminated in a Technical Writeshop that resulted in the draft substitute bill.

Committee on Ecology Chairperson Amado Bagatsing presided over the approval of the Committee Report on ICM Bill in the House of Representatives.

Committee on Ecology Chairperson Amado Bagatsing presided over the approval of the Committee Report on ICM Bill in the House of Representatives.

One of the salient provisions of the ICM bill is the integration of coastal management, climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction and management. This is in recognition of the increasing vulnerability of low lying coastal areas to climate hazards. The Philippines is also considered to be the 2nd most disaster prone country in the world. Another significant provision is the mainstreaming of integrated coastal management in existing local development plans. Consequently, local development councils, from regional down to cities and municipalities, play instrumental role in the conservation and management of important ecosystems by ensuring that ICM plans are institutionalized and budgets are allocated. Reporting and accounting of the conditions of coastal and marine resources are underscored through the regular publication of State of the Coast Report.

The Senate, meanwhile, has yet to act on the proposed bill, Senate Bill No. 100, which was filed by Senator Loren Legarda. The Committee on Environment and Natural Resources in the Senate is currently being Chaired by Senator Chiz Escudero.

Article written by Mr. Dennis Calvan

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Photo 2- Fishing community in Barangay Anibong in Tacloban    City in the aftermath of Yolanda.

NFR Conducts Orientation on Climate Change, DRR, & Fisheries Management

Seven Non-Government Organizations, each specializing in fisheries as well as environmental and coastal resource management and conservation hosted a two-day orientation seminar from August 3-4, 2015 for community-based coastal resources management practitioners at the Institute of Social Order in Ateneo de Manila University Campus. The activity received funding support from OXFAM.

New staff and as well as expertsall over the country from NGOs namely, NGOs for Fisheries Reform, Institute of Social Order, Center for Empowerment and Resource Development, Tambuyog Development Center, HARIBON Foundation and Sentro para saIkauunlad ng KatutubongAgham at Teknolohiya came to this event to meet and greet, discuss, learn as well as exchange ideas and knowledgeon the current situation and issues in the field of fisheries as well as coastal resources management.

Topics discussed during this two-day learning session include Fisheries in the Climate Change Context by Dr. Jose Ingles, Fisheries Management by Vicente ‘Manny’Paterno, Community Based Coastal Resource Management by Mr. Al Bernarte and Ms. DinnahUmengan, Women in Fisheries by JovelynCleofe, Relief and Recovery in the Fisheries Sector by Ms. LaarniParaboles, as well as Technical Expertise on Coastal Community Socio-economic Profiling by Ms. Marie De la Rosa and Poverty Alleviation Strategy for Fisheries by the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

Article written by Mr. Christian Salamida

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NGOs Open Public Forum on Resettlement Issues in Tacloban City

Fisherfolk and representatives from civil society organizations discuss rehabilitation and recovery in fisheries and aquaculture.

Fisherfolk and representatives from civil society organizations discuss rehabilitation and recovery in fisheries and aquaculture.

Internally  displaced persons, Civil Society Organizations from different sectors, Non-Government Organizations, International Non-Government Organizations and representatives from the academe and the Local Government Units all over Tacloban City have  gathered at the Leyte Park CCA Hall last July 22, 2015 to discuss one of the most pressing issues revolving around Post-Yolanda Recovery and Rehabilitation Phase – Resettlement of the inhabitants from the Barangays in San Jose to the northern Barangays in the city.

In this forum, also known as the Tacloban Resettlement Forum, key matters and issuesrevolving around the situations of the IDPs – like provision of shelters and restorative livelihood to the IDPs, situation of the IDPs a year after having survived typhoon Haiyan, consequences of resettlement to fisher folk communities that are to leave their fishing communities, LGUs development plans for Uptown Tacloban City and  the resettlement sites and in Northern Tacloban, alleged poor quality of the shelters in the resettlement areas,  as well as the issues revolving around the Yolanda survivors’ inability to avail certain aid from the government like the ESA – were raised, aired out, tackled and  argued on by the participants from the different sectors, NGOs, INGOs and LGUs.

This forum was made possible by the collective efforts and active collaboration of the organizations namely OXFAM, Urban Poor Associates (UPA), Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Christian Aid, NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NFR), Eastern Visayas Network of NGOs and POs (EVNet) as well as all the participating members of the different sectors, agencies and organizations in this event.

Article written by Ms. Hannah Hippe

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Climate Change, DRR, & Fisheries Management: Finding the Connections

November 8, 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) brought massive destructions in Eastern Visayas and nearby regions, leaving thousands of people dead and millions of people affected whose homes were damaged and livelihoods imperiled. Indeed, the world’s climate is changing. These changes tooka vast impact on our ecosystems, human civilization and society. Nowadays, human-induced activities are altering the world’s climate such as increasing the atmospheric concentration of energy-trapping gases, thereby amplifying the natural greenhouse effect that makes the Earth warm. With these undertaking, now comes the never-ending controversy of Climate Change.

Climate change represents one of the greatest environmental, social and economic threats facing the planet. It is the long-term change in average weather conditions, including temperature, precipitation and wind. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change is already apparent as evidenced by higher temperatures, rising sea levels, increased ocean acidity and ice melt. It is a worldwide phenomenon that we can no longer prevent as its effects have become increasingly noticeable.

Dr. Jose Ingles on Climate Change and Fisheries

Dr. Jose Ingles on Climate Change and Fisheries

Due to its wide-ranging effects, coastal and marine resources including those fishing families in coastal communities are threatened. Threats include elevated sea level, which may kill coral reefs and other living communities that constitute habitat for fish and shellfish; most traditional fishing grounds are overfished or fully fished thus making it harder for fisherfolk to bounce from disasters; aquaculture investments are becoming risky thus making low profit margins;increased stream temperatures, episodic flooding, saltwater intrusion in heretofore freshwater systems, all of which can reduce the productivity of spawning and rearing waters; and lower pH (decreased alkalinity) of seawater to the point where calciferous zooplankton and shellfish cannot survive. As a result, artisanal fisherfolk across the globe are highly vulnerable to its consequences as compared to other people living nearby their settlements due to their high dependency with the environment and its resources.

Nevertheless, climate change adaptation and mitigation are efficient means to help reduce the risks of this marvel.United Nations IPCC clearly defines climate change adaptation as the ability of a system to adjust to climate change in order to reduce its vulnerability, and enhance the resilience to observed and anticipated impacts of climate change. On the other hand, mitigation refers to any strategy or action taken to remove the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, or to reduce their amount.

For fisheries management, adaptation can be planned or autonomous,for instance spontaneous response to environmental change or planned action based on climate-induced changes. It may be changing the timing or locations of fishing as species arrive earlier/later or shift to new areas. Finding species resistant to salinity and temperature fluctuations for aquacultureon the other handis planned adaptation.A variety of governance actions and policy, specific technical support or community capacity building activities that address multiple sectors, not just capture fisheries or aquaculture farmerscan be included as adaptation in fisheries and aquaculture.

Although adaptation is context-specific, there are a number of adaptation activities that can be applied in most fisheries and aquaculture settings. These include:

  • Reduce external stressors on natural systems. Reduce land-based sources of pollution and destructive fishing practices (e.g. fishing with explosives and poisons).
  • Improve safety at sea due to increased storm severity as well as improved early warning and forecasting systems for severe weather events,investmentsin safer ports and landings and measuresis necessary. Adequate onshore storage facilities for boats and gear can prevent loss or damage from storms and extreme events.
  • Enhancing Resiliency measures such as promoting disaster risk management in general including disaster preparedness and protective infrastructure such as hard options like seawalls and flood reservoirs, or soft options such as buffer zones via afforestation or reforestation of mangroves.
  • Mainstreaming by integrating fisheries and aquaculture sectors fully into climate change adaptation and food security policies at the national level to ensure incorporation into broader development planning.
  • Capacity building. Partnerships between private, public, civil society and NGO sectors are dynamic for holistic climate change adaptation planning. Therefore,civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and government organizations need to be involved in climate change planning.
  • Recognition and innovation of opportunities. New opportunities may become obtainable, for example, the promotion of aquaculture-based livelihoods where channel areas have been inundated and agriculture is no longer possible.
  • Linking local, national and regional policies and programs will mean greater networks. Climate change will affect poverty, food security, infrastructure and other sectors within and between countries. In addition, climate change will probably cause spatial displacement of both aquatic resources and people, requiring strong regional structures to address these changes and their implications.
  • Spatial planning. This comprises marine and terrestrial zoning for siting of aquaculture facilities (sub-tidal and terrestrial systems) and mangrove areas to balance aquaculture needs with land-dwelling development and shoreline protection with rising sea level.
  • Addressing Ghost fishing. Lost gear can cause mortality and habitat damagebecause of theincrease storm brutality. Nevertheless, there are some measures that can reduce their impacts. A gear retrieval program is one, and certain gear could be designed to minimize impacts if lost.
  • Policy and management considerations. Standard practice adoption for improved fisheries and aquaculture management and integrated coastal management for coastal and near shore fisheries can improve resilience and increase system adaptability. Policies that are flexible and support easier entry and exit into new fisheries and out of those that are declining can ease both socio-economic impacts from changing fisheries and also prevent overfishing of the edges of stocks as they move away (Pinsky and Fogarty, 2012). Overall, capacity reductions and the removal of incentives for overfishing are vital to ensuring sustainable fisheries.

These are only few of the numerous adaptation strategies and practices that multiple sectors at the present time continue to promote and advocate. Innovative and new policies have been already developed toempower coastal communities and marginalized sectors in the fishing industry. One is the Community-Based Coastal Resource Management (CB-CRM), an approach that centers on the role of communities in the management of their resourcesand their rights to enjoy the benefits resulting from their collective action.The rights and interests of these indigenous peoples and local communities must be at the center of any successful and sustainable policy to address marine and coastal degradation and deforestation. That is whyTambuyog Development Center, a non-government organization founded in 1984 as a result of research and organizing in Lingayen, Pangasinan by the University of the Philippines College of Social Work and Community Development is appealing for attention to the declining fishery resources and unabated poverty in coastal communities through interdisciplinary research, creative information and education campaign, community organizing, policy advocacy, constituency building, community enterprise development andeven gender inequality for women who are oftentimes misinterpreted, miscalculated and considered“the invisible fisherfolks”.  As diverse as the women’s role in fishing activities and their multiple task in ensuring the survival of their fishing households, almost always their participation are not counted in the final production outputs, because women are reflected only extensions of their male counterpart.

Organize interdependent communities of empowered women and men sharing responsibility and enjoying benefits from the sustainable management and development of Philippine Fisheries are part of Tambuyog Development Center’s vision. One of their missions is to contribute to the empowerment of fisherfolks by developing broad and dynamic unity among stakeholders in fisheries development at the local and national levels towards community property rights. Finally, their ultimate goal is to reinvigorate CB-CRM practices and work towards an enabling policy environment with emphasis on optimizing benefits from community property rights and improving market access for women and men engaged in municipal fisheries in the Philippines. This shall be achieved by strengthening fisherfolks organizations of women and men, building networks and alliances, advocating policy changes, shaping public opinion and facilitating timely and relevant information flows.

Almost two years after the Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan),survivors especially fisherfolks are still on the battle of an interminable issue on rehabilitation and recovery. The Department of Agriculture projected that 202,410 fishing households were affected in Central Visayas and Northern Palawan. Fisherfolk communities were given support by the government, citizen organizations, and the private sector in boat repairs and new fishing gears. However, fishers are still facing declining catch after the typhoon damaged fishing grounds and the marine ecosystem.

A 40-meter no-build zone policy was issued last March by Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR). The agency later backtracked on this policy after critics pointed out that this does not consider the means of supportthrough livelihood and geo-hazards in different areas. OPARR later committed to a Joint Memorandum Order together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Science and Technology, and the Department of National Defense on safe, unsafe, and controlled zones but this has not been issued yet.

The Local Government Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan (LRRP’s)   for Cebu, Iloilo, Eastern Samar, Leyte, and Tacloban City have already been approved by the President. As of July 2014, the Government Clusters have vetted the LRRPs for the remaining provinces of Palawan, Masbate, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Biliran, Southern Leyte, and Dinagat Islands. For infrastructure, the primary goal is to build back better by rehabilitating and improving infrastructure to support recovery and rehabilitation as well as the enhancement of disaster resiliency of affected communities.Correspondingly, social services cluster aims to facilitate delivery of basic services such as education, health, and social protection services to affected communities as well as provide healthy environment and strengthen capacity to cope future hazards and disasters. Resettlement and livelihood cluster plan, on the other hand targets to relocate affected families living in hazard prone areas to safe areas and to develop sustainable and disaster resilient settlements in orderto achieve inclusive and sustainable business for their livelihoods.

Completed rehabilitation of the ports of Naval and Cuyo; and Kalibo International airport; ongoing rehabilitation of airports of Tacloban City, Roxas, Busuanga, Ormoc, Guiuan; completed rehabilitation of 13 health facilities and ongoing repair of 27 health facilities; ongoing rehabilitation of 5 halls of justice; 51.82 km of Farm-to-Market Road completed and ongoing rehabilitation of 173.97 km; ongoing repair of 6 Communal Irrigation Systems covering 1,208 hectares;support to fisheries and aquaculture (provision of fishing boats, motor engines, fishing gears and other paraphernalia, seaweed dryers and seaweed farm implements; aquaculture rehabilitation and development) were presented on the status report of theOffice of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) as of July 2014.

All these issues and advocacy calls, may it be from fisherfolks, farmers or any other sectoral groups were never given importance (if given, taken for granted) only until Typhoon Yolanda came that it turn out to be a prevailing noise. Almost two years from now when the strongest storm in recent history has brought the strongest act of humanity, embracing a nation of survivors and while we continue battling on these several arguments, the question still remains: Where are we now?

“Climate change is not a challenge. It is an opportunity. We need to stop thinking about climate change as an “environmentalist” concern, and start thinking about it as a “kids-and-grandkids” concern. We need YOU to make this happen!”

–          Dr.Jose A. Ingles

 Article written by Ms. Hannah Hippe


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7th Drafting Committee Meeting for the IRR of RA    10654

Philippine Government Addresses Illegal, Unreported, & Unregulated Fishing

With its commitment for a sustainable use of the sea and its resources, on June 10, 2014, European Union (EU) issued ‘yellow card’ warning to the Philippines for its weak efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). In its press release, the major shortcoming that was identified by the giant economic bloc of governments is the country’s lack of systems, based on internationally adopted rules, to sanction deficiencies in monitoring, controlling and surveillance. And to help rectify the situation, EU extends assistance to the Philippines according to its proposed action plan that needs to be completed in six-month period.

One area of engagement that was pointed out by the action plan is amending Republic Act 8550 or the 1998 Fisheries Code of the Philippines.A large deal is at stake should Philippines fail to comply.To start with, EU is one of the important export markets for the Philippine seafood industry, next to the United States and Japan. It was reported in the Wall Street Journal that Philippine fishery exports to EU amount to US$ 230 million in the year 2013 alone. This possible economic loss was seriously considered by the government and paved the way to some legislative actions.The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) took the lead role in ensuring that a new amended fishery law is ready to be signed before the deadline. The deliberation process in both the House of Congress and Senate did not take so long and each legislative version of the law, H.B. 4536 and S.B. 2414 respectively, finally met on a bicameral assembly for harmonization on Nov. 27, 2014. This resulted to a consolidated bill which was reportedly signed by Speaker Sonny Belmonte of the House of Representatives on January 22, 2015.The Senate promptly followed. President Aquino, on the other hand, opted to neither veto nor sign the consolidated bill, thus after thirty days it lapsed into law.

The NGOs for Fisheries Reform currently sits as drafting committee member for the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 10654. The IRR is expected to be issued in September 2015.

Article written by Mr. Erlo Matorres

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