CEBUANO ARTISANAL FISHER COPS INT’L ‘OCEAN AWARDS’
A FISHERMAN from San Remigio, Cebu, who almost lost his life fighting illegal fishers in Tañon Strait, was recently declared as one of the five winners of the 2018 Ocean Awards, conducted by two international groups, both based in the United Kingdom (UK).
Norlan Pagal, 49, was recognized by Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) and Boat International for being a ‘local hero’ and a devoted community leader on marine conservation.
“Now on its third year, the Ocean Awards recognizes and rewards those that share our commitment to fixing the largest solvable problem on the planet – the crisis in our oceans,” said Boat International on its website.
Pagal and four other awardees in the area of science, innovation, visionary, and public awareness, were announced in the June 2018 issue of Boat International.
The award was presented to Pagal during a recent fisherfolk forum in Cebu City, attended by fellow fishers from 8 coastal communities along Tañon Strait, a protected seascape between Cebu and Negros.
A vigilant campaigner against illegal fishing, Pagal was shot while he was on his way home after making a speech in a village hall in San Remigio. He survived, but he was paralyzed from the waist down.
A father of five, and currently a barangay councilman, Pagal had been previously attacked because of his unrelenting campaign against fellow fishers who resort to illegal means to catch fish.
He chairs a fishermen’s association in Barangay Anapog, and formerly led the ‘Bantay-Dagat’ patrol until he was shot and paralyzed, to guard against any form of fishing at the Anapog fish sanctuary. The sanctuary is one of the eight marine protected areas in the coastal town of San Remigio.
Now that Pagal is wheelchair-bound, he remains pragmatic, even
optimistic about the future. His group in Anapog fishers’ group is currently engaged in the production of abalone, clams and sea cucumbers as additional sources of income.
“I am not afraid to continue my advocacy, even if I lose my life,” he said.
“What is important is that our children and grandchildren will see that it is not a lost cause; that there is value and goodness they get out of it after all,” added Pagal.
“I am so thankful that we are all here gathered for one cause. I
became a cripple, because of our advocacy to protect Tañon Strait and our oceans. Despite what had happened, I continue to do what we need to do,” Pagal said.
“Let’s put aside politics. Let’s unite as protectors of the seas, because the seas feed us, and send our children to school. Let us be one for the future of our children. I am here to inspire and touch [your] hearts, and to remind [you] to stand up against politics and illegal fishers that destroy our seas,” concluded Pagal.
The forum served as a platform to unite municipal and artisanal fishers in all coastal towns along Tañon Strait and assert their rights to protecting Tañon from all forms of illegal fishing and other destructive activities within the protected area. They were honored by the presence of PNP Maritime Group Director Chief Superintendent Rodelio B. Jocson who assured them of the all-out support of the agency by ensuring the enforcement of fisheries and related laws in the protected seascape.
BLUE, a charity organization based in the United Kingdom (UK), aims to create marine reserves and models of sustainable fishing worldwide. It targets to protect at least 10% of the world’s oceans by 2020. BLUE was established in 2010 by the team behind the movie ‘The End of the Line,’ which brought the world’s attention to the crisis of over-fishing.
Boat International, also UK-based, is the global authority in superyachting. It publishes over 1.2 million magazines yearly in three different languages that sell in 60 countries, and organizes 10 annual events in London, Monaco, Ft Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Porto Cervo and The British Virgin Islands. It also provides digital media services and data to owners and professionals in the superyacht industry.
Lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos (left), vice president of Oceana Philippines, hands over the 2018 Ocean Award, on behalf of Boat International and Blue Marine Foundation, to Norlan Pagal of San Remigio, Cebu, assisted by PNP Maritime Group Director C/Supt. Rodelio B. Jocson.