12 LGUs support bid to make Guimaras Strait ‘protected area’

The bid to declare Guimaras Strait a ‘protected area’ has received support from the local government units (LGUs) covered by the rich fishing ground located in Western Visayas (Region 6).

This city’s Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, who chairs the Regional Development Council (RDC)-6, said on Friday the proposal gained a ‘very positive response’ during his meeting with the concerned local chief executives on Thursday.

‘It was attended by 12 of the 18 LGUs that we invited. All 12 unanimously decided to continue with the proposal,’ he added.

In March this year, Benitez said he proposed the creation of the Guimaras Strait Commission to regulate fishing activities in one of the most important fishing grounds in the country which supports fisherfolk from Panay, Guimaras and Negros Occidental.

Benitez said the initiative aims to declare Guimaras Strait a “protected area,” wherein all the 18 LGUs will ‘band together come up with a consensus and create a common management arrangement.’

‘But of course, allowing all economic activities. Their report showed 50,000 metric tons of seafood are coming from Guimaras Strait. We’re trying to find ways on how we can increase, protect and make this sustainable,’ he added.

The mayor also said being discussed is the possibility of ‘all LGUs can join forces, share resources’ to have only one Bantay Dagat (sea patrol) team for the Guimaras Strait.

‘Right now, each LGU watches their municipal waters. It could also be that we work together and do a joint monitoring and securing of Guimaras Strait,’ he added.

Benitez said the next step is to conduct data gathering, including collating the fishing ordinances of the LGUs to determine the common grounds that can be agreed upon.

Source: Philippines News Agency