To ensure that local government units (LGUs) are proactive in managing their municipal waters, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will audit all coastal cities and municipalities to check their compliance to the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 and other related laws and issuances.
DILG OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Año says that the Department has developed the Fisheries Compliance Audit (FishCA) to reinforce upon the LGUs their responsibilities under the law for the management, conservation, development, protection, and utilization of marine resources within their municipal waters.
“Let us advocate the empowerment and protection of rights of our small fisherfolk in utilizing the resources in our municipal waters. LGUs should prioritize initiatives in managing their coastal areas for sustainable livelihood of the municipal fisherfolk, and for the food security at present and the years to come, and FishCA is a helpful tool in measuring their efforts," says Año.
Año explains that FishCA is composed of indicators that will assess the performance of LGUs in complying with their mandates under the Fisheries Code. It also seeks to aid in identifying the assistance needed to enhance the capabilities of LGUs in addressing gaps in fulfilling their mandates under the law.
"Itong FishCA ay magsisilbing paalala sa mga LGU na ang DILG ay seryoso sa mga hakbang nito tungo sa mahusay na pamamahala sa mga yamang tubig sa kanilang nasasakupan," he adds.
He also encourages various stakeholders to pitch in for the implementation of various policies, including FishCA, in managing municipal waters for "well-maintained natural resources that cut across all segments of society".
"The enforcement of fishery laws is a shared responsibility among different stakeholders from the concerned national agencies, local government, down to the communities living in the area, hence, everyone should work together for the effective implementation of such policy," he says.
According to Año, FishCA will assess LGU compliance using four key indicators, namely Governance, Environment, Stakeholders' Participation, and Law Enforcement.
Under Governance, LGU will be gauged in its performance of exercising its powers and responsibilities over municipal waters including the issuance of related ordinances, the establishment of a registration and licensing system, among others.
It also aims to ensure that the LGU is providing the necessary assistance to municipal fisherfolks for the sustainability of their livelihood, and of the local fisheries industry.
The Environment indicator will audit existing initiatives towards sustainable fisheries through the assessment of the quality of municipal water in terms of threat to overfishing, development of precautionary measures such as the establishment of harvest control rules and reference points, and adoption of ecosystem-based approaches to coastal resource management.
Stakeholders' Participation will look into the existence and functionality of the Municipal/City Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils (M/C FARMCs) in providing support to the LGU in managing the municipal waters.
The Law Enforcement indicator will assess the effectiveness of regulatory measures done by the LGU against the operation of illegal activities within their areas of jurisdiction.