Local government units (LGUs) should be more proactive in monitoring and regulating fishery activities within their municipal waters or be held liable for non-compliance, says the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
DILG OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Año says that LGUs, particularly cities, municipalities and barangays, should already “intervene” actively in ensuring the efficient and effective management of their fishery resources because of the dwindling water and fishery resources.
"Millions of lives depend on water and its resources. It is imperative, therefore, for LGUs to be on top of ensuring that their water resources are nurtured and protected because these assets are vital to national development," says Año.
Under Section 16 of Republic Act No. 8550 as amended by Republic Act No. 10654 or the Amended Philippine Fisheries Code, municipal/city (C/M) governments shall have jurisdiction over municipal waters, and shall be responsible with the management, conservation, development, protection, utilization and disposition of all fishery and aquatic resources within their respective municipal waters.
The said law also states that LGUs shall have authority over municipal waters to enforce all fishery laws, rules, and regulations and valid fisheries ordinances enacted by the city or municipal council.
In Memorandum Circular No. 2018-59 issued recently, Año says LGUs may be held accountable for their action or inaction towards the monitoring and regulation of fishery activities in municipal waters as part of their territorial jurisdictions.
"Just like other rules, non-compliance to the provisions of the Act and other relevant policies regarding the regulation and monitoring of water resources shall entail administrative, civil and-or criminal liabilities," Año explains.
Among the prohibited fishery activities are: fishing threatened or endangered species; aquatic pollution; use of fine mesh net; coral exploitation and exportation; muro-ami and other methods and gears that are destructive to coral reefs and marine habitats; and fishing through explosives, noxious, poisonous substance or electricity.
In the same directive, DILG Chief Año enjoins LGUs to establish City/Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (C/M FARMCs) which will serve as "anchors" for all the endeavors and initiatives concerning the fishery activities in their municipal waters.
"Establishing FARMCs is very relevant in this crusade for it will be the main agent that will advocate for the municipal waters preservation and regulation. Napakahalaga na magkaroon ang mga munisipyo at lungsod nito," says Año.
The FARCs shall be composed of the following: Municipal/City Planning Development Officer; Chairperson of the Agriculture/Fishery Committee of the Sangguniang Bayan/Panlungsod; one representative each from the municipal/city development council, accredited non-government organization, private sector and Department of Agriculture; and 11 fisherfolk representatives.
Specifically, C/M FARMCs will prepare the Municipal Fishery Development Plan; enact C/M ordinances through recommendation from its Committee on Fisheries; enforce fishery laws, rules and regulations in municipal waters; and perform such other functions stated in the act.
It is also the responsibility of the LGUs through their FARCs to ensure the protection of small fisherfolks, fisheries and aquatic resources in municipal waters, and ensure small fisherfolks’ rights for preferential use of resources.