To Ensure Vibrant Oceans, Filipino Mayors Champion a Local Approach

At a national summit, over 300 Filipino mayors embrace community-led approaches to strengthening coastal fisheries

Mayor Mariano Martinez of San Remigio in Cebu province speaks about marine sanctuaries.

On March 6th and 7th, more than 300 Filipino mayors, along with 200 fisheries officers and representatives from universities and NGOs from across the Philippines, gathered in Cebu City for the 2019 National Coastal Fisheries Summit. Convened by the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) and the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), and supported by Rare, the summit was aimed at strengthening fisheries governance for the benefit of the nation’s 1.6 million small-scale fishers.

Over 300 mayors and 200 allies attended the National Coastal Fisheries Summit.

“Ultimately, it is the local communities who must decide to make positive change happen for themselves and the natural resources they depend on,” said Rocky Sanchez Tirona, Vice President of Rare Philippines. “It is exciting to see so many mayors come together to share knowledge, share their experiences, and share a commitment to sustainably manage their coastal waters. These mayors and the communities they lead are really taking charge of their futures.”

Rare Philippines Vice President Rocky Sanchez Tirona (left) is joined on stage by LMP Mayor Maria Fe Brondial (middle) of Socorro, Oriental Mindoro and DA-BFAR Undersecretary for Fisheries Eduardo Gongona (right).

“Local solutions are critical to stopping coastal overfishing and protecting the health of the ocean,” said Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Melissa Wright. “It was inspiring to see these mayors come together to share ideas and commit to taking action that will benefit their communities, as well as the ocean.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Melissa Wright addresses mayors during the summit.

The summit was the first one in 10 years to bring coastal mayors together. Over the course of the summit, mayors, government officials, NGO staff and others discussed a wide-range of issues affecting coastal fisheries — sustainably managing resources, collecting data, safeguarding rights, stopping illegal fishing, mobilizing funds for coastal fisheries, and building the climate resilience of coastal communities.

Mayor Mary Jean Te of Libertad, Antique speaks about fishers’ rights.

“Municipal fishers are among the least privileged in the country and therefore, they must be given the proper attention they deserve from the government,” said Mayor Maria Fe Brondial of Socorro, Oriental Mindoro, who also serves as President of the LMP.

During the summit, the mayors approved resolutions to:

  • Strengthen coastal fisheries governance to ensure the preferential rights of municipal fishers in the utilization of marine resources
  • Improve the condition of marine protected areas and fish sanctuaries, and establish new ones, to sustain fisheries habitats
  • Strengthen marine and fishery law enforcement in coastal communities
  • Prioritize and provide adequate financing to sustain coastal resource and fisheries management programs
  • Integrate coastal resource and fisheries in municipal climate change programs
Attendees pose with fish mascot puppets, a popular social marketing tool.