Small fisher leaders from coastal towns and cities of Negros Occidental were able to obtain the support of Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson on several pressing issues and concerns affecting their sector, during a recent meeting at the Provincial Capitol in Bacolod City.
The small fisher leaders who belong to the newly-organized Panay-Negros-Guimaras Crab Fishers Alliance (PANEG-CA) and the Negros Occidental Small Fishers Alliance (NOFSFA), called on the governor to address their lingering issues on continuing illegal fishing on local waters, small fishers’ poverty and lack of livelihood for coastal communities, the need for protection and development of the blue swimming crabs (BSC) industry, the intrusion of illegal marine and black sand mining in coastal areas, lack of fishers’ participation in local governance especially in fisheries and aquatic resource management councils (FARMCs), and the dire effects of climatic changes in coastal areas.
Lacson promised to look deeper into their issues and reassured the small fishers of his support to their struggles for a decent life and sustainable future. Among the initial points of agreement reached with the small fishers included strengthen monitoring and enforcement on illegal fishing, review of provincial BSC ordinance including the need for closed season, foster engagement with LGUs and BFAR on FARMC strengthening, and the provision of livelihood support to affected small fishers and their families.
The governor also expressed his support for PANEG-CA, which will have its founding regional congress on December 18-19 in Bacolod City.
NOFSFA chair Edwin Espinosa lauded the governor for attending the dialogue despite his busy schedule and for assuring support and openness to their issues.
Also attending the meeting were Office of Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) head Dr. Dina Genzola, PRRM-Negros staff led by its Area Manager Edwin Balajadia, and small fisher leaders from the cities of Sagay, Victorias, Kabankalan and Bacolod, and the towns of Hinigaran, Manapla, EB Magalona, and Binalbagan.*