Masbate Fishery Development Program
For years, blast fishing damaged Masbate’s fish sanctuaries; finely-meshed nets ensnared even small fishes; cyanide fishing poisoned the corals and trawlers intruded into the municipal waters. The years of neglect and destruction stopped when in 1994, the governor initiated the Fishery Development Program. Since then, the fishing communities were in the forefront of the protection and conservation of marine life. The program deputized 180 sea wardens supported by policemen and coast guards. Seminars on law enforcement to 80 local police authorities contributed to the apprehension of 224 illegal operators. Reef rehabilitation and sea culture were undertaken to fully restore and regenerate marine resources such as construction of 154 modules of artificial reefs in eight municipalities; preservation of six sanctuaries; and establishment of two seaweed nurseries.
Thirteen fishery cooperatives served as conduits for credit assistance amounting to P4.6M for livelihood projects and acquisition of fishing tools and boats. Significant reduction of illegal and destructive fishing increased production from 500 to 1,200 kilos per year per hectare thereby increasing the income of fishers. The strict enforcement also led to increased government revenues through fines collected from illegal commercial fishing operations. Sustainability of the program is ensured through the following mechanisms; the setting up of the Fishery Development Fund; continuous community organizing and capacity building; fishery resource conservation and protection and establishment of support facilities such as cold storage and ice plants.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 1997 Galing Pook Awards.