PARTNERSHIP TO PUSH FOR ‘RIGHT FISHING’ IN NEGROS
USAID Fish Right Program for Southern Negros Principal Investigator Ben Malayang III (left) talks about the rationale of the program during the executive briefing held at Hotel Maefinne in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental on Tuesday (Jan. 29, 2019). (Photo by Erwin P. Nicavera)
BAYAWAN CITY, Negros Oriental — A multi-sectoral partnership is being formed in Negros Island to push for the concept of right fishing, particularly in key biodiversity areas.
The initiative will banner the Fish Right (FR) program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Philippine’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) together with a consortium of partners, mainly to develop southern Negros seas and boost support for fishing communities in the area.
USAID FR for Southern Negros Principal Investigator Ben Malayang, during the executive briefing at Hotel Maefinne here on Tuesday, discussed the idea of right fishing to make the fishing scale sensitive to the limitations of the ability of the fish to replenish themselves.
This was prompted by the recognition of the government that “we need to do something with how we fish not just why we fish,” he added.
“The main intention of the program is to save biodiversity and reverse the trends towards declining fisheries,” Malayang added.
He said the partnership wants to address the overall situation, and not just a specific area where biodiversity and fishery are dwindling.
“So where the fishery is still very healthy, we would like to make sure that it continues to be healthy, in fact healthier. Where the fisheries are already getting poorer, we’d like to change the trajectory of the situation back to becoming better,” he added.
To address declining fish catch and lesser people being able to afford fish, and acquire good income from fisheries, the program introduces ways to improve fish-based food and protein security through an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM), including “right sizing” when catching fish.
“Right sizing” can be achieved through better policies, better management, more alternative income opportunities for fishers and traders, better education and public awareness on fishery issues and opportunities, and stronger citizens’ push and pressure for better fisheries.
The southern Negros forms part of the three areas in the country where the FR program is being implemented. The two others are the Visayan Sea and Calamianes Group of Islands in Palawan.
It covers those identified as South Negros Marine Key Biodiversity Area, encompassing the municipal waters from Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental to Cauayan town in Negros Occidental, or a total of 11 localities in the island.
Malayang said the program for southern Negros will focus not only on the fish, but also on the fishers.
“It will be an ecosystem approach because we look at both fish and fishers, and the institutional configurations that provide the dynamics between the fishers and the fish,” he added.
The FR for Southern Negros also includes a consortium of partners, including fishers, traders, concerned government agencies, private sector like business chambers and cooperatives, civil society organizations, schools, media, and local government units (LGUs).
Under the program, USAID mainly provides the technical needs.
The executive briefing, also participated by Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by president Roberto Montelibano and chief executive officer Frank Carbon, and Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry headed by president Francel Martinez, was part of the team’s effort to build coalition of partners.
This month, the partnership lab will also conduct media campaigns and science assessments on fishery situation and issues to be followed by the public launching of the program.
The two governors of the Negros provinces are expected to sign a covenant of commitment in the middle of February, along with the signing of partnership agreements by other partners. (PNA)