Banate Bay in the province of lloilo in Western Visayas is a fishing ground of 1,315 hectares commonly shared by the municipalities of Anilao, Banate, and Barotac Nuevo. While they were sharing the same waters, their ordinances and enforcement approaches varied widely. The individual efforts of the three municipalities were largely ineffective. All major rivers were clogged by man-made obstructions that resulted in heavy siltation and flooding. Illegal fishing activities with the rampant use of fine mesh net, cyanide and dynamite, and the unregulated intrusions of big commercial vessels destroyed fish habitats and depleted the resources of the bay.
Realizing that only a concerted effort could save the bay, the three municipal governments forged an inter-LGU partnership on February 28, 1996. Their collaboration was operationalized through the Banate Bay Resource Management Council, Inc. (BBRMCI), a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registered entity. The three municipalities initially contributed P100,000 and two personnel each to compose the Council's full time staff. As agreed, BBRMCI had the power to regulate, protect, and rehabilitate Banate Bay. To mainstream the participation of the small fisherfolks, 19 Barangay Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Management Councils (BFARMCs) and 10 fisherfolks associations were organized. Around 78 fish wardens were deputized. The three municipalities revised their fishery ordinances that paved the way for uniform law enforcement. All illegal structures in the major rivers were dismantled. Mangrove reforestation and nursery projects were initiated, and artificial reefs were established. BBRMCI facilitated the release from the Department of Agriculture of P1.5 million for livelihood projects benefiting 247 fisherfolks.
The impact of the program is experienced and verified by the small fisherfolks themselves. They used to have a daily catch of 1 1/2 kilos of fish which increased to 2-4 kilos a day, or even more. Old-time residents testify that for the first time in many years, there is a resurgence of sardines and crabs in the bay. Mussels, oysters and shells have reappeared. Coastal residents became more concerned about the environmental state of the coastal area and the bay. The provincial government had adopted the program as one of its priority development programs in the province.
This program is recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Programs in the 1998 Galing Pook Awards.