THE NATIONAL Government will provide a fishing ground sharing scheme for coastal towns in Oriental Mindoro that are still affected by a major oil spill from a sunken fuel tanker.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources “will adopt a cluster approach to ensure that all affected fisherfolk will have a place to go and congestion in one fishing area will be avoided,” DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos, Jr. said in a statement.
Under the plan, residents of the municipalities of San Teodoro and Baco may fish in the municipal waters of Paluan and Abra De Ilog in Occidental Mindoro. Tayabas Bay and Mindoro Strait have also been proposed as fishing areas for the two affected municipalities.
Fishermen from Calapan City, Naujan, and Pola may sail out to the municipal waters of Boac, Gasan in Marinduque, as well as Tayabas Bay, according to the DILG.
Fishermen from Pinamalayan, Gloria, and Bansud may catch fish in the municipal waters of Concepcion in Romblon and portion of Mindoro Strait, it added.
The last cluster, which includes fisherfolk from Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay, and Bulalacao, may go to Tablas Strait and the municipal waters of San Jose and Magsaysay in Occidental Mindoro.
Mr. Abalos said the duration of the sharing program will be determined by the results of continuing fish and water testing.
“As soon as the fish samples are okay and there is no more contamination of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in the affected areas of Oriental Mindoro, the fisherfolk can already do their fishing activities in their own territorial waters,” he said.
The DILG said it will also review existing policies on the management of municipal waters.
Mr. Abalos, meanwhile, called on local governments in coastal areas to include oil spills and other similar incidents in their contingency plans, and make it a Seal of Good Local Governance requirement.
Fuel tanker MT Princess Empress was carrying 800,000 liters of industrial oil when it sank off Naujan, Oriental Mindoro on Feb. 28, affecting fish sanctuaries and the livelihood of fisherfolk.
Local governments in Oriental Mindoro, including the provincial government, have yet to file any legal suit against the tanker’s owner, RDC Reield Marine Services.
A coalition of various sectors that advocate for the protection of the Verde Island Passage has been calling on the National Government to “speed up efforts to contain the oil spill and hold accountable those responsible for it.” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza