Fishermen return to school, take climate change lessons
As the effects of climate change become even more acute, educating the country’s fishermen who are experiencing the phenomenon firsthand has taken on a new urgency.
This prompted the Oceana Philippines marine conservation group to bring together fishermen from different communities in a virtual classroom as part of the “Classroom for Fisherfolk” learning series. Here they come to appreciate their important role in protecting the country’s fragile marine environment through the often overlooked Fisheries Management Zone (FMA) system. As part of the FMA system, a management body publishes scientific policies on the sustainable management of the country’s fisheries. It involves representatives of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, national and local governments, sector members, civil society groups and academic institutions. There are currently 12 FMAs in the country.
While warming waters and the acidification of the country’s seas are difficult to deal with, the program hopes to stop human activities that contribute to environmental stresses, including overfishing and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
“Oceana is thrilled to be the pioneer of the Classroom for Fisherfolk learning series to empower our fishermen by helping them better understand their rights and responsibilities under our Constitution and our fishing laws, and the importance of their active participation in the sustainable management of our marine environment. resources, ”said Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice-President of Oceana.
“The classroom learning series benefits not only our fishermen, but even those in government. There is so much we can learn from our participants who spend more time at sea than anyone else. It is a wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas on pressing challenges… and to discuss how we can solve these problems together, ”she added.
Ramos said most of the fishermen who attended previous sessions have expressed deep concern about the state of the country’s fisheries and want to know how they can help preserve water resources for generations to come.
They believed that the waters of the land contained infinite resources. But fishermen now understand that they are not and that they are the frontline stewards of nature’s bounty.
Robert “Ka Dodoy” Ballon, head of the Coalition of Municipal Fishermen’s Associations in Zamboanga Sibugay and recent winner of Ramon Magsaysay, also pleaded for the inclusion of women and young people in the following classes.
Born to a fisherman’s father, Ballon understood and took to heart the value of the sea. Before “sustainability” became commonplace to signify ecological awareness, Ballon and 30 other fishermen launched Kapunungan sa Gamay nga Mangingisda sa Concepcion (Association of small fishermen of Concepcion) in 1986 to stop the rampant conversion of fish ponds and the destruction of mangrove forests in His hometown. His work for the protection of the oceans has not stopped since.
The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation recognized Ballon for its “inspiring determination to lead fellow fishermen to revive a dying fishing industry by creating a sustainable marine environment for this generation and generations to come, and its shining example of the how everyday acts of heroism can truly be extraordinary and transformative.
Oceana’s learning series began in June with around 15 fishermen from different parts of the country. By September, the number of participants had already grown to 60. They all received an overview of the law and science behind FMA, the state and challenges of implementation, and ways in which they can assess. the performance of the FMA using the dashboard developed by Oceana and non-governmental organizations.
“The majority of anglers still don’t understand what the FMA system is,” said Ballon. “I hope that over the next few sessions we can broaden the discussions to include how this can benefit our environment, our livelihoods and the growth of the fishing industry. It’s for the next generation, so they can understand why there are FMAs.
Oceana said the Ministry of Agriculture (DA) should consider institutionalizing such efforts so that they can truly include small-scale fishermen in craft policies. Just as how the management of FMA goes beyond political or legal jurisdictions and instead focuses on the range and distribution of fish stocks, the DA should also broaden its understanding of the industry and see it through the eyes of those who know it best, the fishing country.
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