The true spirit of the Christmas season is best felt through acts of kindness, including being mindful of how our actions impact our planet, especially the ocean. More than the feasts and gifts that abound this time of year, let us also show our gratitude to our natural life support system including the marine ecosystems and the individuals and communities who foster these resources to ensure our food and livelihood.
This year, celebrated as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA 2022), we honor our deeply-challenged artisanal fisherfolk for their valuable contributions and join them in solidarity to fight illegal fishing and unabated habitat destruction, stop overfishing, plastic pollution and other persistent threats to our marine habitat.
We saw this 2022 the continuous disregard of the mandate of our duty holders to deter the persistent intrusion of commercial fishing in municipal waters, the devastation caused by widespread dumping and filling of our coastal and marine resources to pave the way for projects that the people are rejecting, pervasive plastic pollution, and the delayed integration of science-based sustainable fisheries management, including the snail-paced implementation of the National Sardines Management Plan. Amid these challenges, our artisanal fisherfolk and their families are at the receiving end of the disaster caused by these destructive activities, aggravated by the worsening impact of the climate crisis.
Amid the challenges, we celebrate the strengthened unity and linkages among partners and allies sharing the vision of a sustainable, safe and resilient present and future for all. Oceana and other civil society organizations and some national government agencies and local government units banded together to take concrete steps in defending the Filipino people’s right to a healthful and balance ecology, their livelihoods and to maintain strength and resilience against the impacts of climate change.
We will continue to push for the government’s cohesive actions to enforce their mandates and realize our dream of restoring ocean’s abundance, and uplift the lives and well-being of fisherfolk, women, children and our coastal communities.
Let us embrace the season’s essence of hope and joy for our fellow Filipinos. Ensuring and mainstreaming ocean protection is one of the best gifts we can bestow on our children, families and communities, and the rest of humanity. It is an act of kindness that will reverberate for decades to come and will touch the lives of present and future generations.