November 19, 2018. Manila, Philippines. Close to a hundred leaders of fisherfolk organizations from municipalities of Tanon Strait Protected Seascape have come together after successfully registering as a federation.
Tanon Strait is a narrow body of marine waters separating the islands of Cebu and Negros was declared as a protected seascape in 1998 through a presidential proclamation. The seascape is governed by a Protected Area Management Board. Tanon Strait has 43,000 registered fisherfolks coming from 42 municipalities of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Cebu.
“This is the first time that all fisherfolks will be united into one umbrella federation in Negros and Cebu,” said Venerando Carbon who was elected president of the Tanon Strait Fisherfolk Federation.
“We formed the Federation to have a united voice in policy decisions on fisheries management and to protect our livelihood,” said Carbon who came from a fisherfolk organization in Barili.
“For many years, the interest of fisherfolks have been represented by non-government organizations in PAMB. While we appreciate the efforts of the NGOs in working closely with our sector in ensuring better delivery of services, this time, we the fisherfolks will be the one voicing out our concerns,” explained Veda Raunillo, the secretary of the Federation.
Aside from accreditation for membership at the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), Executive Committee and Site Management Units, the Federation will spearhead cluster consultations, fund raising drives and public forum on key fisheries and marine issues in Tanon Strait.
Oceana Philippines, an international NGO fighting to protect Tañon Strait and stop illegal commercial fishing in the country’s 2nd largest marine protected area, lauded the historic step taken by the artisanal fisherfolk.
In her solidarity message last week, Ramos explained the importance of fisherfolk organizations’ participation in decision making. She said these are inherent rights enshrined in the Constitution, the Local Government Code, the Fisheries Code, as amended, and other environmental laws.
“As a formidable force and authentic voice of fisherfolks in Tanon, you have to make your presence felt by collaborating with government and demanding transparency and accountability, if nessesary. Together, you can make the government accountable when they are not delivering services mandated of them” she told the Federation members.
Aside from Ramos, other speakers include Dr. Anthony Ilano Assistant Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, University of San Carlos, Pablo Rosales, Chairman of PANGISDA Pilipinas, Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Executive Director, Bulig Pilipinas and Raymunda Debuayan, Regional Director of the Foundation for Philippine Environment.
Atty. Johnson Canete, Regional Director of DOLE7 administered the oath of office of newly elected leaders of the Federation.