The Calamianes Resilience Network, with the support from the US Agency for International Development (USAid) and the Calamianes Marine Protected Area Network, hosted the first environmental law enforcement summit in Coron, Palawan from October 10 to 11.
The summit drew more than 100 representatives from the national and local governments, civil society organizations and local communities who gathered to find solutions to improving local government authorities, enforcement agencies, and communities’ cooperation to address illegal fishing, mining, quarrying, logging, and wildlife trafficking.
Among the key outcomes of the summit was a declaration of commitment by the participants — led by Department of Agriculture’s Undersecretary for Fisheries and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Eduardo Gongona and US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission John Law — through which governments and communities cemented their commitment to work together for more sustainable management of natural resources.
“The United States government is honored to work alongside you in advancing sustainable fisheries that provide food, livelihoods, and coastal protection for all Filipinos,” Law said.
“We are partners in building toward a productive blue economy that will lead to a more prosperous Philippines,” he added.
Annually, the Philippines loses about P68.5 billion from illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Through USAid’s P1.3 billion Fish Right program, the US government improves the sustainable use of critical coastal and marine resources, enhances the resilience of these resources, and strengthens the capacities of key actors on an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. US assistance is expected to benefit close to a million people in coastal communities in the Calamianes.
During his first visit to Coron, Palawan, Law also participated in a dialogue on illegal fishing with local government and municipal fisherfolk. He also met with community leaders managing the Siete Pecados marine park and the Tagbanua leaders in Kayangan Lake.
In 2015, the local government of Coron and USAid signed an MOU to implement a comprehensive master plan to protect the marine biodiversity in Siete Pecados. Since then, the island has become a model for sustainable tourism for other local governments, earning an annual revenue of up to P2 million pesos from tourism user fees, funding regular patrol and monitoring operations.