4 PROVINCES, BFAR SIGN PACT VS ILLEGAL FISHING
ILOILO CITY— Four provinces in the Visayas and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) have formalized an agreement to protect the Visayan Sea from illegal fishing and other environmental threats.
In a covenant signed recently in Sicogon Island in Carles town in Iloilo province, officials of the provinces of Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Cebu and Masbate and BFAR agreed to work jointly for the declaration of the Visayan Sea as a fishery management area.
Governors Alfredo Marañon Jr. of Negros Occidental and Arthur Defensor of Iloilo signed the covenant while Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III was represented by Baltazar Tribunalo, Cebu provincial environment and natural resources officer.
No representative from Masbate was able to attend but the province was still part of the covenant, according to Dr. Raul Banias, Iloilo provincial administrator who attended the event.
Agriculture Undersecretary Eduardo Gongona, BFAR national director, represented the agency.
The agreement called for collaboration in protecting and rehabilitating the 10,000-square meter Visayan Sea.
The provincial governments and BFAR cited in the covenant the need to conserve the area’s marine resources for “both present and future generations” of Filipinos.
BFAR agreed to provide vessels dedicated to monitoring, control and surveillance activities in the Visayan Sea, allocate funds and assign technical staff.
The agency will also spearhead efforts in preparing fishery management programs for the Visayan Sea with the support of provincial governments and other stakeholders.
The Visayan Sea is considered as among the country’s richest fishing grounds which are being threatened by illegal fishing.