Bantay Dagat-Tabang Mangingisda Program
In 1992, the municipal mayor launched the Bantay Dagat Program to address the problems of rampant illegal fishing within municipal waters, destructive deep sea fishing by big fishing vessels, very low fish catch, dwindling credibility of law enforcers and almost nil revenue from the fishery industry. With the creation of the Fishery and Aquatic Resource Management Council and the Bantay Dagat Task Force, a systematic approach and a sustained information drive on aquatic preservation and management was achieved.
Ten fishery-related ordinances were passed and strictly enforced within the municipality. There was sustained information campaigns in every barangay where local folks actively participated in data-gathering and monitoring of illegal fishing vessels entering the territory. After 5 years of implementation, there was a remarkable decrease in the number of poor families in the coastal barangays from 76% to 43% in 1997. Fishery revenues increased from zero in 1992 to Php 80,000 in 1998. There was likewise a 46% increase in business taxes and licenses. The LGU acquired 2 patrol boats equipped with communication equipment. They have base radios with frequency connected to barangay centers and were provided to the local police. A marine reserve was also demarcated with an area of 43.4 sq. kilometers. Artificial reefs were constructed in 6 barangays. Illegal fishing was reduced by 90%. Presently, there are 24 fish wardens monitoring the area round-the-clock. Alternative livelihoods like swine fattening, bag making, poultry and fish processing were also provided for the fishing community. There was full cooperation in the observance of closed-fishing seasons especially during the spawning of the "dilis" for which the town is known for. The preservation of coral reefs and sanctuaries became a collective commitment of the entire community.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 1999 Galing Pook Awards.