The Burgos Birds and Fish Sanctuary in Surigao Del Sur highlights the valuable contribution of women in the fishing industry, through promoting active participation in the management of marine protected areas and a booming dried fish enterprise, conservation group Haribon Foundation said.
The Burgos Birds and Fish Sanctuary is managed by KAAMPAKA (Kadagatan Ampingan Pagmata Katawhan), which is duly registered in the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). It was founded by only five fishermen in 1997 and has since increased in membership to 40 members today, including a number of women.
Haribon said these women voluntarily guard the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) round-the-clock, shelling out their own resources to buy gasoline for their pump boats to travel to the MPA site and to patrol the area. While there have been occasional encounters with armed illegal fishers, the women remain unfazed by hurdles, motivated by how their contribution can benefit their own children.
In 2012, the Haribon Foundation through the DARWIN project surveyed the abundance of the danggit fish in the area. After a series of feasibility studies, KAAMPAKA with the assistance of Haribon commenced an income generating activity for the community of Burgos. Members of KAAMPAKA underwent capacity building and organizational strengthening training. Women members, on the other hand, were given the opportunity to manage the enterprise.
The KAAMPAKA Dried Fish Processing Project was operationalized in 2014. In a regular day, with at least 20 kilos of fresh danggit, five women members receive 150 pesos daily subsidy. Another two women gained 75 pesos for a half-day packaging of processed dried fish. Women members tasked to market the products earn 150 pesos a day. A tenth of the share from the total net income is allocated for MPA management expenses.
Today, women members of KAAMPAKA are grateful for the additional income they earn from the danggit project. They can now set aside some extra to buy basic family needs like soap, salt, sugar, and coffee. They also noted how the income helped with their children’s educational needs such as their school supplies and daily allowance.
The women members remarked that the project has helped them eliminate their dependency on their husband’s daily wages, as they are now able to contribute to the family’s financial resources. Interestingly, domestic violence was also reportedly reduced after the project started.
Haribon Foundation has been working with communities in Surigao to help sustain marine management initiatives in marine protected areas (MPA) and marine protected area networks (MPAN) in the province.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Department of Trade and Industry, the local government of Cortes and The Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. are also supporting the Dried Fish Processing Project of KAAMPAKA.
AMELITA TALOTALO/HARIBON FOUNDATION