Bali, Indonesia – The Philippines has been selected anew by Bloomberg Philanthropies as one of the priority countries for its Vibrant Oceans Phase II -- making an investment of USD $86million. The fund is to be shared with Australia, the Bahamas, Chile, Fiji, French Polynesia, Indonesia Tanzania, Peru and the United States. These countries were chosen because they are home to priority coral geographies, are top fishing nations, and/or are countries where fish is a major food source.
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative (VOI) works with world-class partners to ensure ocean ecosystems survive and thrive despite the growing threat of climate change.
Launched in 2014 with an initial commitment of $53 million in three countries - Brazil, Chile, and the Philippines - Vibrant Oceans partners with coastal communities, nonprofit organizations, local and national governments, policy makers, and academic groups to advance evidence-based conservation practices and implement data-driven fisheries management policies around the world.
“We are extremely elated of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative expansion in the Philippines and 9 other countries. The continuing support of Bloomberg Philanthropies in our campaigns to stop overfishing and protect marine habitats is testament to the dedication and commitment of Oceana and our partners including Rare, our VOI partner in the Philippines, in our quest to restore the health, richness, and abundance of the Philippine seas and improve the quality of life of our artisanal fisherfolk and their families,” said Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice-President of Oceana Philippines.
In the Philippines, Oceana photographed huge boats and nets where they weren’t supposed to be in the Tañon Strait. A national media campaign led to government crackdown and investment in seaborne patrol boats. Oceana helped in institutionalizing the designation of special prosecutors who, with the Park Superintendent, filed legal cases against offenders while Rare organized mayors around the Tañon Strait who together convinced the national and local government units to fund enforcement in their municipalities.
Under the VOI, there was an increase in the level of awareness about Tanon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS) because of Oceana’s partnership with national government agencies, local government units and civil society organizations. Tanon Strait is a narrow body of marine waters found in between the island of Cebu and Negros. The continuing advocacy of Oceana Philippines for a more active and meaningful participation of all stakeholders in its Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) led to numerous meetings and public forums where the issue of intrusion of commercial fishing vessels were tackled. The training and workshops of law enforcers and prosecutors led to increase in the success in field operations and prosecution of cases.
Through the VOI in the Philippines, two different organizations – Oceana and Rare – with different strategies and approaches for fisheries and marine conservation, complemented each other’s work as seen in Tañon Strait. Rare’s work at the community level was complemented by Oceana’s work at the policy and national level where relevant issues such as illegal and destructive fishing are being addressed.
In the next four years, Oceana’s work in the Philippines will take the learnings from the work in Tañon Strait to the national level in fighting commercial fishing encroachment in municipal waters, bringing with it policies and instruments that were developed with the Department of Interior and Local Government, local governments and other agencies, such as the Fisheries Law Compliance Audit (FishCA), enforcement toolkit and the enforcement reporting systems.
In addition to these campaigns, Oceana Philippines will continue to be at the forefront in helping government establish science-based Fisheries Management Areas for sardines in the Visayan Sea, working closely with stakeholders at the regional level and creating collaboration to manage common resources. Other forthcoming campaigns focus on the identification of an area for the protection of coral reefs and a campaign to deter illegal dump and fill activity in the Philippines.
In its statement, Oceana said that this new partnership underscores that it takes scale to deliver global ocean abundance for the future. Bloomberg Philanthropies is changing the way we think about saving the oceans. Broad international agreements tend toward lowest common denominator goals and weak enforcement mechanisms, but the Vibrant Oceans Initiative has supercharged a country-by-country approach that achieves tangible, concrete policy victories. National laws do have teeth and make real impact.