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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Professional management and alternative livelihoods: approaches to enforcing fisheries laws.

Posted By: Hugh Trudeau, Guillermo H.A. Santos, Jane Meintjies.
Date: Thursday, 21 June 2001, at 10:58 a.m.

In Response To: Enforcing environmental laws: a societal approach / Philippines. (Bob Johannes - responding to Jennifer Kallie and Autalavou Taua)


PLACING FISHERIES MANAGEMENT ON A PROFESSIONAL BASIS: I fully agree with Mr. Johannes' assessment of the problems with enforcing environmental laws in the Philippines (http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=300). Even in the absence of corruption, the democratic system is not conducive to making the hard decisions that are necessary to properly manage fisheries resources.

Canada's east coast cod fishery is a case in point. Even when the local populace is fairly well educated and understands the real concerns, the politics prevent necessary restrictions from being imposed. In Canada's case, the local politicians argued in favour of protecting their constituents' livelihood in the face of pending disaster, until the situation was so bad that nothing could be done to prevent the inevitable loss of stocks, and thus the very effects that they were trying to avoid.

In the Philippines there is a small ray of hope in the currently running Fisheries Resource Management Project (FRMP). This project is developing a computerised licensing system for municipalities as well as national commercial fisheries; a model fisheries ordinance for municipal fisheries; and enforcement training and organisational programmes for municipalities. The basic thrust is to put the management of fisheries and particularly the enforcement role on a professional basis.

In one of the model sites, Sapian Bay, the communities are being organised together with the two provincial governments involved, to manage the bay as a unit from a management centre. The centre will fulfil the research, management, licensing and enforcement functions. If this model is successful it will be promoted in all of the municipalities and bays in the Philippines. The project is still in its early stages at this point, so it remains to be seen how successful it will be. We can provide the tools to do the job but in the final analysis, it is the will to use them that counts the most.

I partially agree with approaching the problem from the social sciences perspective and there is certainly a major element of that in all of the ongoing programmes. I feel personally that what is missing is a professional attitude toward managing and protecting the fisheries. The short-term perspective of what is or appears to be best for a local community may well spell disaster in the long term. I agree that the solution lies in the local people and their attitude, for this is also where the problem lies.

I advocate an educational approach, particularly aimed at children while they can be influenced. If there is to be a lasting solution to this issue, it has to be with the future generations. Even if we stop the continuous destruction of the habitat now, and that is not likely, it will be decades before the natural restoration will take effect, particularly with coral reef areas and mangrove plantations.

Every step we take to that end is laudable and should be encouraged, because in the final analysis it is not only the future of fisheries that hang in the balance but probably the future of mankind. For more information on the FRMP project go to the web site http://www.frmp.org/

Mr. Hugh Trudeau,
Fisheries Licensing Consultant,
Quezon City, The Philippines.


ALTERNATIVE LIVELIHOODS FOR FISHERS: There is the alternative livelihood question we must face squarely if we hope to solve this problem of enforcing environmental laws (http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=300). The marginalised municipal fisher-folk in the Philippines are guesstimated to be anywhere from eight to ten million people. The number could be higher because the archipelago has more than 7,000 islands and at least 80% of the 76 million population live within 2 km of the coastlines.

The Philippine Futuristics Society advocates this step-by-step action:

1. Extensive education and sharing of information on the ecological issues (illegal fishing, sustainable development etc.) with the fisher-folk. This should be started by training the chosen local leaders who will conduct the information campaigns.

2. If there are no multi-purpose cooperatives in the area, form the cooperative or private foundation composed of fisher-folk who will implement the action programme itself.

3. Introduce sea farming as an alternative livelihood. People will eventually realise that fish-cages or fish-pens along the coastal areas, and seaweed farming (for carageenan) which is a sunrise industry here, are truly profitable. These actions will assist nations such as the Philippines overcome their protein intake deficiencies.

Mr. Guillermo H. A. Santos,
President, Philippine Futuristics Society,
The Philippines.


FISHING WITH CYANIDE: Several recent contributions have mentioned fishing with cyanide (http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=300, http://csiwisepractices.org/?read=330). It would be helpful if you would explain how the fishermen use cyanide to catch fish. What is the impact on the fish and what is the impact on the waters?

Ms. Jane Meintjies,
c/o Sustainable Project Management,
Not-for-profit Association, registered in Geneva.

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