The Coastal and Marine Resources Management in the Coral Triangle—Southeast Asia (CTI-SEA) organized a three-day training course on fisheries law enforcement for municipal and barangay officials in Balabac, Palawan on 18-20 March 2013.
The training resulted to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) deputizing 27 new Fish Wardens who will complement personnel from law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police in the implementation of fishery laws, rules, and regulations.
Hon. Shuaib Astami, Mayor of Balabac, said that the training was timely because illegal fishing activities was rampant in the municipality.
The Balabac Strait Marine Biodiversity Conservation Corridor serves as a major migratory passageway for tuna, sea turtles, and marine mammals and this has attracted many illegal fishers and poachers for decades.
“I am worried that the rich resources inherited from our forefathers are being destroyed because of these illegal practices,” he said. He asked the participants to take the training seriously and apply what they have learned to protect Balabac’s coastal resources.
Dr. Romeo Cabungcal of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) served as the training course facilitator for 48 participants. They were oriented on the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 (RA 8550), taught how to identify internal and external manifestations in fish caught by blast fishing illegal fishers, and how to plot positions in nautical maps using GPS.
Mr. Paciano Gianan of the BFAR Provincial Office, Mr. Edgardo Zabala, and Mr. Artchiel Rodriguez of the OPA also trained participants on the proper procedures in apprehending violators, filing cases in court, and giving testimonies as witnesses. Municipal and barangay officials, LGU staff, and personnel from the Coastguard, Maritime, and Philippine National Police. Two women, Ms. Violeta Gabinete who is the Barangay Captain of Pandanan Island and a police officer, attended the course
CTI SEA Deputy Team Leader for the Philippines Mr. Raul Roldan said the activity was important because the last municipal–wide law enforcement training in Balabac was held at least four years ago when organizations such as World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, and Tanggol Kalikasan were implementing projects in the municipality.
“Capacity building interventions very rarely reach their barangays because of the remoteness of these islands from the Palawan mainland. The barangay leaders and municipal LGU has recommended that we conduct orientations on coastal resource management, and basic fishery laws at the barangay level . We plan to work with imams or religious leaders and other barangay officials who are influential in the community for these cluster trainings,” he said.
Mr. Roldan also served as resource person for the training with other CTI SEA consultants namely Atty. Jay Batongbacal (Legal Specialist), Dr. Benjamin Gonzales (Coastal and Marine Resource Management), and Mr. Roger Savella (Key Biodiversity Area Specialist). The team closely coordinated with the local government of Balabac particularly with the office of Mayor Astami and Vice-Mayor of Balabac, Mr. Rudy Muhammad A-in, the Municipal Planning and Development Office, Municipal Agriculturist Office, and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) through Mr. Edmund Roxas, District Supervisor.
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