Tañada: “Save our Galunggong, Pass the Marine Protected Areas Bill!

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Asis
Perez recently confirmed the declining supply of galunggong or round
scad in the country.  This has prompted canneries, plants and even
industrial buyers like restaurants to import what used to be viewed as
the poor man’s fish.

In recent turn of events, the supply of imported galunggong has
penetrated local wet markets. Deputy Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” R. Tañada
III said, “for an archipelagic country to end up importing galunggong,
the Filipino’s staple dish, is indeed lamentable.”

BFAR has admitted that the country is showing signs of overfishing as
fish catch continue to plunge. Other problems hounding the fisheries
sector include loss of marine biodiversity, loss of revenues and
benefits from fisheries and coastal resources, inequitable
distribution of benefits from fisheries and coastal resource uses,
population growth, inconsistent policies and programs for sustainable
fisheries, and lack of a constituency for sustainable fisheries.

House Bill 57 entitled “Marine and Coastal Resources Protection Act
of 2011” mandates coastal cities and municipalities to establish at
least ten hectares of  marine protected areas (MPA) to address the
problems of the country’s fisheries sector.  However, if municipal
waters is 15 hectares or less, MPA shall comprise at least 15 percent
of the area.

Deputy Speaker Tañada furthered that, “House Bill 57 sets aside a
portion of each municipal waters area for community-based protection
which could be in the form of marine parks where conservation-oriented
recreation, education and research are emphasized, reserves where
access and uses are regulated and controlled, or a sanctuary where a
“no take” policy is imposed.”

“Studies have shown that even within three months after the
establishment of a marine sanctuary, fish stocks are replenished and a
marked increase in fish catch is seen,” Tañada said.

Congress has already passed it on Third Reading on 31 May 2011 and
transmitted it to the Senate on 2 June 2011.

“The ball has been with the Senate since last year.  This bill is
just but part and parcel of what should be a cohesive policy mix to
address the problems of the fisheries sector.  I just hope they act
quickly on the matter,” Tañada said.