LGU and fisherfolk associations in San Fernando, Masbate cooperate to maintain their MPA
Before the sun rises up, you can hear the grating sounds of the rake and soft chatting of the residents of Brgy. Resureccion while cleaning the shoreline of San Fernando. They gather the trashes and wastes carried away by the water current and segregate these properly in a compost pit. Sharp stones are collected and arranged at the corner of the coast.
“Dapat malinis an dagat para mag damo pa an mga isda kag mas maayo an tubo san amon mga seaweeds” (The coast should always be clean in order to ensure abundance of fishes and healthy growth of seaweeds), said Mr. Noel Bergantin, Adminstrative Aide IV/Fisheries Coordinator.
Aside from the Deputized Fish Wardens (Bantay Dagat) whose role is to maintain the cleanliness of the coastline within the area covered by the sanctuary, the LGU had also organized a team of concierge to maintain the sanitation and the orderliness of the shoreline in four barangays of San Fernando namely Resureccion, Baybay Dagat, Silangan and Buyo. Every morning from 4 am to 6 am, they start gathering and cleaning the seashores before they do their household chores. The members of the concierge also receive monthly incentives from the LGU.
“Maayo po ini na nalilinisan namon an baybayon, bukod sa damo an pwede na magkadi na mga turista, nakakasiguro man kami na dili maaatian an sanktwaryo” (It’s a good thing that we are able to clean the coast, aside from inviting tourists, we are also assured that out sanctuary is clean), said Dagay Divina, member of the concierge residing near the coast of Brgy. Resureccion.
Fisherfolk are always included in all activities to maintain and protect the Marine Protected Area (MPA). This is a way for them to have a sense of membership and appreciate the benefits of these projects.
As the only Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Masbate, residents of San Fernando are enliven to protect the coastal ecosystem and conserve the biodiversity of the municipal waters in order to help increase the fish catch particularly among the marginal fisherfolk of the area as well as improve the quality and volume of their seaweeds.
The GEF project, being implemented by the LGU through the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) as the implementing unit and the fisherfolk association, with the assistance of the Municipal Fish Sanctuary and Marine Reserve Council (MFSMRC) aims to: (a) increase their fish catch by 5-10% within 3 to 5 years of the MPA existence, (b) conserve and increase production of aquatic plants and animals that are depleted due to exploitation and over harvesting, (c) instil awareness on the residents of the MPA and (d) provide alternative livelihood projects to the marginal fisherfolk and their families.
The proposed 125-hectare Municipal Fish Sanctuary and Marine Reserve is located at Brgy. Resureccion, San Fernando, Masbate with an estimated cost of roughly 3 million GEF grant. Continuous consultation and technical review with the Proponent Group is still on-going to know the proper intervention the PRDP-GEF can offer.
GEF-funded projects aim to incorporate natural biodiversity conservation mechanisms and coastal fisheries resources management to local governments’ commodity investment plan. ### (Michelle Angela G. Alfigura, DA-PRDP RPCO V InfoACE Unit)