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Philippines : ECOFISH cites champions of marine biodiversity areas.

After months of on-site training and interaction with the fisher-folks of Sorsogon and Northern Leyte, the Ecosystem Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH), a partnership project between the government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), hosted a gathering in Legazpi City to recognize the local governments efforts in promoting sustainable and environmental fishing practices. With the fishing grounds of Ticao Pass, San Bernardino Strait and Lagonoy Gulf being declared as Marine Key Biodiversity Areas (MKBA), the Department of Agricultures Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) implemented programs in mainstreaming ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) as early as January 2017. One of these programs include ECOFISH, to which DA-BFAR partnered with USAID and cooperated with the LGU and concerned stakeholders. In the Bicol region, ECOFISH conducted trainings and seminars among the many sectors of the coastal municipalities surrounding the MKBAs, including the business, law enforcement, agricultural and tourism sector, in order to educate those concerned on the significance of sustainable fishing practices. Unlike many projects, USAID requires proof that there is indeed the improvement in what we are doing. We (ECOFISH) do this by proving that there is at least 10% increase in fish density in the MKBAs and improved livelihood among the locals living in the surrounding coastal villages, explained Nygel Armada, ECOFISHs Chief of Party, as he presented the results of the ECOFISH projects from 2012 TO 2017.

Armada explained that it is ECOFISHs objective to find or create a balance between having better life to the residents of the fishing villages in the Sorsogon-Northern Samar area and ensuring a protected ecosystem in the MKBAs. As reported by ECOFISH, the fishing areas at San Bernardino Strait increased by 25.5% in fish density after ECOFISH have implemented their projects in the said location. As a result, 27% of the fisher-folks of in the area stated that they live much better due to the increase in the number of catch. In detail, conducted surveys revealed that more fisher-folks are happier with the results of sustainable fishing practices, with 10% believing they are earning bigger and are saving money. In terms of improved fishing operations, an increased 10% of the fishermen stated they have less time reaching the fishing grounds and 13% have less time completing their fishing operations as they catch fish easier due to the increase in fish density. Due to these positive results of the actions implemented, ECOFISH, alongside DA-BFAR, named the many government and non-government institutions that contributed to the increased fish density in the MKBAs and improved livelihood of the fisher-folks. ECOFISH awarded these LGUs and partners as champions of the MKBAs.

In the province of Sorsogon, the local government of the municipalities of Bulusan, Barcelona, Magallanes, Pilar, Donsol, Prieto Diaz, Gubat, Sta. Magdalena and Matnog were given recognition. The municipalities of San Antonio, San Vicente, Allen, Lavezares, Biri and Capul in Northern Samar were also awarded during the said summit.

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Publication:Mena Report
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:May 24, 2017
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