By Roi Lomotan
Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo upheld the provincial government’s mandate to conserve and protect the province’s fishery resources by signing the commitment on sustainable fisheries in a simple ceremony held at Silliman University (SU) recently.
The signing of the document was the highlight of the fellowship activity hosted by the implementers of Fish Right (FR) Program in SU for its partners in Negros Oriental and counterparts in University of Rhode Island in the U.S.A.
SU President Dr. Betty McCann, University of Rhode Island (URI) President David Dooley, URI Coastal Resources Center Director JP Walsh, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Regional Governor for Central Visayas Ed Du, Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Francisco Martinez, and representatives of agencies involved in the implementation of FR program witnessed Gov. Degamo sign the said document.
Gov. Degamo signed the document in behalf of the Provincial Government of Negros Oriental after the Sangguniang Panglalawigan passed a resolution authorizing him to represent the provincial government in this endeavor.
In his short message, Gov. Degamo thanked the U.S. Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for choosing Negros Oriental as one of the three sites for the implementation of FR program.
Gov. Degamo underscored that project will benefit those people residing in coastal communities especially those who rely on fishing as their source of income and livelihood.
Moreover, he said, the FR project will be an opportunity for agencies to synergize their efforts towards a sustainable fish harvest.
“I will do what is necessary within my power and within my capability as provincial governor to make sure this project will be a success,” Gov. Degamo said.
The provincial government of Negros Oriental has projects regarding the conservation and protection of our seas through the Environment and Natural Resources Division under my office,” he added.
FR Principal Investigator Dr. Ben Malayang III disclosed the document was supposed to be signed by the governors of the two Negros provinces as affirmation of their commitment to promote sustainable fishery practices in Negros Island.
Negros Occidental Governor Alfred Marañon was not present during the activity.
Dr. Malayang still thinks this is a positive step to ensure there is enough fish supply for the people of Negros.
“It’s a good way of telling everybody that this whole program, initiatives in Negros Island will be led and involves the two governors,” Dr. Malayang remarked.
The FR program is an initiative between the Philippine and U.S. Governments to increase fish production and improve management of fisheries and coastal resources.
It is implemented in three sites namely, the Visayan Sea, Calamianes Group of Islands, and Negros Island.
Part of its objectives is to improve the income of fisherfolks and the well-being of people in terms of food and protein security and enhance the people’s ability to respond and manage climate change -related risks and threats to our fishery ecosystems.
“We use multi-sector partnerships and coalition building as our pedagogy for exhibiting our own objective of sustainable fisheries by way of, among others, righting the scale of our fishing efforts to within the carrying capacity of our fishery, hence, the term fish right,” Dr. Malayang explained.
“We believe, especially in Silliman and in greater Negros community that there is ethical and moral dimension of meeting to respect the rights of our fishes to continue and sustain their population and their species. It is a moral obligation,” he added.
On the other hand, URI President David Dooley looks forward to a strong partnership between SU, Provincial Government of Negros Oriental, and the agencies involved in the FR project in Negros Oriental.
He cited in his speech the need to protect and properly manage the country’s resources for the benefit of the future generations.
URI is SU’s counterpart in implementing the FR Program.