CE­BUANO AR­TI­SANAL FISHER COPS INT’L ‘OCEAN AWARDS’

Agriculture - - Exemplary -

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.

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