PB re­jects Toledo’s bid to al­low com­mer­cial fish­ing

Cebu Daily News - - NEWS - By Ros­alie O. Abatayo CORRESPONDENT

The Provin­cial Board has re­jected an or­di­nance of Toledo City sup­pos­edly al­low­ing small-scale com­mer­cial fish­ing ac­tiv­i­ties within its waters, par­tic­u­larly 10.1-15 kilo­me­ters from its coast­line.

Toledo City’s Sang­gu­ni­ang Pan­lung­sod passed City Or­di­nance No. 2018-004 on July 2, al­low­ing small-scale com­mer­cial fish­ing boats to fish in­side its city waters. It was then for­warded to the Provin­cial Board for manda­tory re­view, since Toledo City is a com­po­nent LGU of the prov­ince.

In the re­port of the Provin­cial Board’s Com­mit­tee on En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion and Nat­u­ral Re­sources ob­tained by

CEBU DAILY NEWS on Fri­day, the com­mit­tee said the or­di­nance con­tra­dicted ex­ist­ing Philip­pine en­vi­ron­men­tal laws.

“It must be borne in mind that the Toledo City waters is un­der the Ex­panded Na­tional In­te­grated Pro­tected Ar­eas Sys­tem (E-Ni­pas) so the con­trol is not with the City but with the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources (DENR), and the man­age­ment of the pro­tected area is placed un­der the Pro­tected Area Man­age­ment Board (PAMB),” the com­mit­tee re­port dated Oc­to­ber 30, 2018 read.

The seas of Toledo City is part of the Tañon Strait Pro­tected Seas­cape (TSPS) which is pro­tected by the E-Ni­pas Act of 2018. TSPS is the largest pro­tected area in the coun­try.

Un­der the law, only small scale fish­ing us­ing boats with gross weight not ex­ceed­ing 3 tons will be al­lowed in the area.

The PB’s de­ci­sion has been lauded by en­vi­ron­men­tal groups, Oceana and Philip­pine Earth Jus­tice Inc.

In a state­ment sent to

CDN, Oceana Philip­pines Vice Pres­i­dent, lawyer Glo­ria Estenzo-Ramos said the “de­ci­sion is a vic­tory for the fam­i­lies of the more than 43,000 mu­nic­i­pal fish­er­folks of Tañon Strait who de­pend on this ecosys­tem for their sub­sis­tence.”

“Com­mer­cial fish­ing in­side a pro­tected seas­cape is not al­lowed un­der our laws on ma­rine pro­tec­tion, oth­er­wise fish­ery and aquatic re­source in Tanon Strait, which has an ap­proved man­age­ment plan, will be dec­i­mated,” Esten­zoRamos added.

Lawyer Rose Liza Eis- ma-Oso­rio also said the board’s de­ci­sion is a bench­mark rul­ing that will pre­vent other LGUs from craft­ing sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tions.

“It was an il­le­gal or­di­nance. And the Cebu board’s de­ci­sion is a com­pelling ac­tion that ef­fec­tively stops other coastal cities and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties from craft­ing sim­i­lar or­di­nances al­low­ing com­mer­cial fish­ing in the Tañon Strait Pro­tected Seas­cape and even in other mu­nic­i­pal waters, un­til they com­ply with the rigid stan­dards of the Fish­eries Code,” said Eisma-Oso­rio, man­ag­ing trustee of Philip­pine Earth Jus­tice Cen­ter.

CDN PHOTO/TONEE DESPOJO

The Toledo City wharf as seen from its light­house.

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