Under the auspices of Oceana Philippines and Sea Around Us, fisheries experts led by one of the world’s top fisheries scientists Dr. Daniel Pauly (Principal Investigator of Sea Around Us at UBC and FishBase co-founder) were gathered together in Manila on 12 January 2018 to impart their knowledge on law and science as key to sustainable management and restoration of fisheries in the Philippines.
“We cannot let fishery resources continue to be overfished; this endangers our food security, both in the short term and in the long term, because overfishing also demolishes the ecosystems within which these resources are embedded,” says Pauly, a member of Oceana‘s Board of Directors. Dr. Pauly is also the principal investigator of a project emphasizing the reconstruction of the world’s total fish catch (see also Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch), which is geared towards enabling fisheries managers with the data and tools to sustainably manage their resource sustainably for the future.
Most of the presentors at the “Law Enforcement and Science: Restoring Filipino Fisheries” conference are members of the Q-quatics Board of Trustees namely, Dr. William Cheung (Nereus Progam), Dr. Ma. Lourdes Palomares (Sea Around Us), and Dr. Cornelia Nauen (Mundus maris). Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice President of Oceana Philippines, joined the panel discussion on how best to manage fisheries resources and conserve the country’s vast but threatened marine ecosystems with key stakeholders from the government, academia, and civil society.
Considered as the “center of the center of marine foreshore biodiversity” and one of the major fish producers of the world, the Philippines is severely exposed to overfishing, illegal fishing, pollution and climate change. The unabated destruction of critical marine habitats is taking a toll on the country’s food security.
“These alarming wake-up calls should compel all of us to work together to finally stop and eradicate illegal and destructive fishing,” says Oceana Philippines’ Vice President Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos. “Coastal local government units and national agencies like the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and our police and armed forces must ramp-up enforcement efforts to protect the marine resources we still have. Local communities must continue to collaborate with various stakeholders and be vigorously engaged in assessing and evaluating the performance of public authorities in coastal and marine protection and take action to ensure sustainable management of our fisheries.” (Source: Sea Around Us).
Dr. Palomares stressed that “increasing demand for fish creates depleted stocks; if the stocks are sick, there will be more hungry people; and more hungry people leads to sicker stocks. It’s a vicious cycle”. She also emphasized that building knowledge on resource management requires sharing of data via publications and data sharing mechanisms such that these can be made accessible, and thus, be of use to resource managers.
Here are some significant quotes from the talks:
- “Fishing is a social activity which therefore throws a shadow on the economy and the society it occurs in. Thus, it is not possible to have a fishery which will provide no information – even indirect – on its existence and size. Almost any reasonable estimate, even a guess based on the “shadow” will be better than the precise estimate of zero that is implied when the fishery is simply ignored.”– Dr. Daniel Pauly
- “Oceans and fisheries are at a crossroads. Solutions are (still) available and possible. New knowledge of the coupled human and natural marine systems allows us to make/develop pathways for sustainable oceans.” – Dr. William Cheung
- “Sharing data itself allows verification, and unshared data or data that people cannot see is usually full of mistakes. Shared data are building blocks for new and emerging research that create data feeding into the pool that is already in use.” – Dr. Lourdes Palomares
- “Good environment, good economy.” – Dr. Cornelia Nauen
This momentous event for ocean conservation in the Philippines was held at Seda Vertis North Hotel in Quezon City, Philippines on 12 January 2018, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. The entire program was made available to the public through a live coverage by Oceana Philippines on their Facebook page [part 1, part 2].
Quoting Atty. Ramos as she brought the session to an end, “Our country is a great country despite the challenges, and we become stronger because of that.”
See also “Renowned Marine Biologists Talk About Ocean Conservation in the Philippines” blog of Sea Around Us. More photos in Oceana PH Facebook post.
News articles from the local press which covered the event:
- Pilipinas, nanganganib maubos ang yamang dagat, by ABS-CBN (local news and entertainment network)
- Marine scientist calls for stronger action to protect Philippine seas, by Rappler (online news site based in the Philippines with a bureau in Jakarta, Indonesia)
- Fish stocks declining, scientists cite solutions, by Concept News Central (news-gathering organization in the Philippines established by Concept Group Inc.)
- Scientists cite solutions to arrest alarming fisheries decline, by Philippine Canadian Inquirer (Filipino-
- Scientists cite solutions to arrest alarming fisheries decline, by Radyo Natin (radio network in the Philippines owned by the Manila Broadcasting Company)
- Scientists cite solutions to arrest alarming fisheries decline, by The Daily Tribune (daily English-language broadsheet publication in the Philippines)
More photos (by Danny Ocampo, Oceana Philippines)