Local government officials have been directed to take a bigger role in securing aquatic resources and local officials may be held liable for failing to act against prohibited fishing activities in their respective areas, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said Monday.
In a statement, the DILG reminded that among the prohibited fishery activities are the catching of threatened or endangered species; contributing to aquatic pollution; using fine mesh net; coral exploitation and exportation; muro-ami and other methods and gears that are destructive to coral reefs and marine habitats; and fishing through explosives, noxious, poisonous substance or electricity.
In Memorandum Circular No. 2018-59 issued recently, DILG Officer in Charge Eduardo M. Año cautioned that LGUs may be held accountable for their action or inaction towards the monitoring and regulation of fishery activities in municipal waters as part of their territorial jurisdictions.
“Just like other rules, non-compliance to the provisions of the Act and other relevant policies regarding the regulation and monitoring of water resources shall entail administrative, civil and-or criminal liabilities,” Año saind.
Año said LGUs, particularly cities, municipalities and barangays, should “intervene” in ensuring the efficient and effective management of their fishery resources.
“Millions of lives depend on water and its resources. It is imperative, therefore, for LGUs to be on top of ensuring that their water resources are nurtured and protected because these assets are vital to national development,” says Año.
Under Section 16 of Republic Act 8550 as amended by Republic Act 10654 or the Amended Philippine Fisheries Code, municipal/city (C/M) governments shall have jurisdiction over municipal waters, and shall be responsible with the management, conservation, development, protection, utilization and disposition of all fishery and aquatic resources within their respective municipal waters.
The said law also states that LGUs shall have authority over municipal waters to enforce all fishery laws, rules, and regulations and valid fisheries ordinances enacted by the city or municipal council.
Año directed LGUs to put up City/Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (C/M FARMCs) which will serve as “anchors” for all the endeavors and initiatives concerning the fishery activities in their municipal waters.
“Establishing FARMCs is very relevant in this crusade for it will be the main agent that will advocate for the municipal waters preservation and regulation. Napakahalaga na magkaroon ang mga munisipyo at lungsod nito (It’s very important for towns and cities to have this),” says Año.
The FARCs shall be composed of the following: Municipal/City Planning Development Officer; Chairperson of the Agriculture/Fishery Committee of the Sangguniang Bayan/Panlungsod; one representative each from the municipal/city development council, accredited non-government organization, private sector and Department of Agriculture; and 11 fisherfolk representatives.
Specifically, C/M FARMCs will prepare the Municipal Fishery Development Plan; enact C/M ordinances through recommendation from its Committee on Fisheries; enforce fishery laws, rules and regulations in municipal waters; and perform such other functions stated in the act.
It is also the responsibility of LGUs, through their FARCs, to ensure the protection of small fisherfolk, fisheries and aquatic resources in municipal waters, and ensure small fisherfolk’s rights for preferential use of resources. PNA