The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has recommended sharing the nearby unspoiled fishing grounds available with fisherfolk affected by the Mindoro oil spill.
The DILG and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) are set to release a joint memorandum circular outlining the sharing of fishing grounds with affected fisherfolk in Oriental Mindoro, where a fishing ban remains in effect.
DILG Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr. said that in adopting a cluster approach, the DILG and BFAR aim to ensure that all affected fisherfolks will have a place to fish and that congestion in one fishing area will be avoided.
San Teodoro and Baco, the affected municipalities, may do their fishing activities in the municipal waters of Paluan and Abra De Ilog in Occidental Mindoro and Tayabas Bay and Mindoro Strait, as proposed by the government. Meanwhile, Calapan City, Naujan, and Pola may fish in the municipal waters of Boac, Gasan in Marinduque, and Tayabas Bay.
The remaining affected municipalities of Pinamalayan, Gloria, Bansud, Bongabong, Roxas, Mansalay, and Bulalacao can fish in Tablas Strait and the municipal waters of San Jose and Magsaysay in Occidental Mindoro and Concepcion in Romblon.
However, the duration of fishing ground sharing is still uncertain, according to Abalos, who said that fisherfolks can return to their own territorial waters as soon as fish samples indicate no more contamination of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in the affected areas of Oriental Mindoro.
Abalos recommended the sharing of fishing areas to affected fisherfolk after facilitating a dialogue with local government units upon instruction from President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.
The BFAR has imposed a fishing ban in the waters off the towns of Naujan, Pola, Pinamalayan, Bansud, Gloria, Roxas, Mansalay, Bongabong, and Bulalacao.
Fish and seaweed samples analyzed in March showed low levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) contaminants. PAHs are a group of organic compounds that are formed from the incomplete combustion or high-temperature decomposition of organic materials such as coal, oil, and gas.
The DILG will also review existing policies related to the management of municipal waters and called on the LGUs to include oil spill and other similar incidents in their contingency plans.
In addition to identifying alternative fishing grounds, the government has provided various assistance including aid distribution, rice assistance distribution, access to clean water assistance, and fuel assistance worth P12 million for affected fisherfolks.
Abalos expressed commitment to continuously monitoring the situation until the fishing ban is lifted and the whole situation returns to normal.
The MT Princess Empress sank off Naujan on February 26, causing a massive oil spill that impacted the livelihoods of over 24,600 fisherfolk.