The Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources are set to issue a joint memorandum circular on sharing of fishing grounds with the affected local government units on the oil spill incident in Oriental Mindoro last February.
DILG Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr. has recommended to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., the sharing of fishing area to affected fisherfolks after the former facilitated a dialogue with the LGUs upon the instruction of the President.
“The DILG and BFAR will adopt a cluster approach to ensure that all affected fisherfolks will have a place to go and congestion in one fishing area will be avoided,” Abalos said.
Affected municipalities of San Teodoro and Baco may do their fishing activities in the municipal waters of Paluan and Abra De Ilog in Occidental Mindoro. Tayabas Bay and Mindoro Strait which are also proposed as fishing areas for the two affected municipalities.
Meanwhile, Calapan City, Naujan, and Pola may do their fishing activities in the municipal waters of Boac, Gasan in Marinduque, as well as Tayabas Bay.
Municipalities of Pinamalayan, Gloria, and Bansud can fish at the municipal waters of Concepcion in Romblon and portion of Mindoro Strait.
The last cluster which includes affected fisherfolks of Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay, and Bulalacao can go fishing in Tablas Strait and the municipal waters of San Jose and Magsaysay in Occidental Mindoro.
However, the duration of fishing ground sharing is still uncertain, according to Abalos.
“As soon as the fish samples are okay and there is no more contamination of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in the affected areas of Oriental Mindoro, the fisherfolks can already do their fishing activities in their own territorial waters,” he said.
Aside from identifying alternative fishing grounds, the DILG will also review existing related policies on the management of municipal waters. The Department of Labor and Employment is also urged to expand the coverage of their Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program in Oriental Mindoro to provide those affected alternative livelihood until the situation normalizes.
The DILG Secretary also called on the LGUs in the coastal areas to include oil spill and other similar incidents in their contingency plans and make it as a Seal of Good Local Governance requirement.
Abalos also expressed commitment to continuously monitor the situation until the fishing ban is lifted and the whole situation returns to normal.
The government has since provided various assistance including ayuda distribution spearheaded by President Marcos, rice assistance distribution, and access to clean water assistance in partnership with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority through their water filtration kits. BFAR is also set to distribute P12 million worth of fuel assistance to affected fisherfolks.
Catherine R. Cueto