The weakening of the world’s fisheries is due to some primary effects of overfishing and climate change, and this could threaten some developing country’s food security.
This was cited by University of Rhode Island President David Dooley in his visit here during a covenant signing of commitment with the provincial government of Negros Oriental in the Fish Right program to support and improve sustainable fishing in Southern Negros.
“Everywhere the fish is under great stress as more and more people rely on fish as source of protein and food, and we are exploiting fish stock beyond its capacity to replenish,” explained Dooley.
He said it is important for the countries like the Philippines to take leadership position to manage the fishing resources with the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The program intends to develop a multi-sector network for a sustainable partnership and cooperation to achieve the goal on the protection and conservation of marine resources in the targeted areas of Southern Negros, Calamianes Islands in Palawan, and Visayan Seas.
Dooley said catching too many small fishes before they mature and do not have the chance to reproduce may decrease the fish population.
He urged the fishery sector to develop sustainable practices and be mindful of all commercial activities for the protection of fish stocks in the sea.
Fish population is expected to be displaced, too, due to the effects of climate change as the ocean gets warmer in temperatures, said Dooley.
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.
The Office of the Provincial Agriculture (PAO) here is preparing for the possible effects of El Niño.
In a Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) meeting, local PAGASA Chief Neptune Catarata said a weak El Niño is present in the tropical Pacific and will likely affect the province with below normal rainfall conditions.
With this, Provincial Agriculturist Nestor Villaflores presented some mitigating measures to lessen the impact of the heat wave in the province.
While dry spell will be experienced in the province, Villaflores said it is expected that rice and corn production may decrease to 50 to 70 percent.
With this, various mitigation and adaption measures are set to include intensification of information dissemination to farmers and other affected stakeholders and production of fruit and forest trees.
The farmers will also be provided by drought-tolerant varieties of rice while increasing the establishment of small scale irrigation systems to farming communities including solar-powered irrigations systems and distribution of polyethylene hose to farmers.
However, Villaflores said some of these mitigating activities may need more than P5 million budgetary requirements.
He also mentioned that the effects of El Niño may lead to a loss of 20-50 percent of crop production in the province due to the possible occurrence of plant pests and diseases.
A series of surveillance and training on pest management and control will be conducted for farmers and “Bantay Peste Brigade” volunteers while providing insecticides upon the occurrence of plant pest during the period and the onset of rainy season.
PAO also braces to respond to expected consequences such as shortage of fish seeds production, damage of crops in shallow water, a decrease of income of farmers, and possible occurrence of red tide in some of the bay areas in the province.
Villaflores said his office has received reported damage of 78 hectares of rice at repining stage in seven barangays in the municipality of Mabinay, but this report is yet to be validated by his office.
Catarata said the weather system may cause varying impacts such as warmer than average surface temperatures and a prolonged dry season.
In May, Negros Oriental is one of the identified areas in the Visayas that will experience a dry spell.
Dry spell means three consecutive months of below-normal rainfall (21 percent to 60 percent reduction from average) or two months of consecutive way below normal rainfall (more than 60 percent reduction from average).