This article was written by Norberto Berida, Regional Director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region VIII
Great biodiversity is very important in the fisheries industry, both for fisheries and for human well-being. For the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, marine protected areas can define the baseline for impact evaluation of the covered area. This baseline can spur many science-based studies to strengthen protection efforts and keep the biodiversity of an area.
In terms of policy, we follow the amended Fisheries Code, Republic Act 10654. Commercial fishing is not allowed within the 15-kilometer from the shoreline, especially in these marine protected areas. The fisherfolk are following this policy although they have misconceptions like no fishing activities are allowed within the marine protected area.
This is the reason why it is important to involve the fisherfolk and communities in managing MPAs. They are the key stakeholders and thus, they are our partners in managing their fishing areas.
Marine protected areas result in high percentage cover of sponges that results in good coral cover under favorable environmental conditions. In the end, MPAs will help improve the livelihood of our fisherfolk because of increase in their fish catch.