Fishers’ group, SBMA vs. plastics

Participants break out from the starting point during the fun-run organized by Subic Bay fisher folks during the “Araw ng Mangingisda” celebration .

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — Fisher folks in the Subic Bay Area have joined the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in its advocacy against the use of plastics and other non-biodegradable products that pollute the environment.

During the celebration of the “Araw ng Mangingisda” last Saturday, members of the Subic Bay Integrated Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (SBIFARMC) said they have rallied to the call by the SBMA for a ban on plastics as their contribution to the cause of environmental protection and sustainable development.

The SBMA had enforced a “No Plastic Bag/No Styrofoam” policy among retail establishments inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone starting January 1 and has put in place stiff penalties for repeated violations. ”Ito ngayon ang adbokasya ng IFARMC na nais naming iparating sa mga residente, lalo na iyong mga nakatira sa tabi ng mga ilog (This is now the IFARMC’s advocacy that we would like to convey to residents, especially those living by the riverside),” said SBIFARMC chairman Restituto Del Rosario.  ”Ang mga itinatapon na plastic sa mga ilog ay pumapatay sa yamang-dagat na ikinabubuhay natin. Kaya huwag sana tayong magtatapon ng basura, lalo na ang mga plastic, sa ilog at sa dagat (Plastics that are thrown into the river kill marine resources, which is our livelihood),” Rosario appealed.

He added that in conjunction with its advocacy project, the fishermen’s group will plant mangrove trees and undertake regular coastal clean-up drives along the coastlines and in the sea off Barangay Baraka in Subic, Zambales and Barangay Barretto in Olongapo City.

SBMA chairman Roberto Garcia said the agency will continue to support SBIFARMC in its projects to prevent illegal fishing and to preserve marine biodiversity in Subic Bay.  ”The SBIFARMC is our major partner in securing and preserving marine biodiversity here. We are glad that we are again together in this advocacy against the use of plastics and Styrofoam materials that pollute the environment,” Garcia said.

The SBIFARMC is an organization representing fishermen from communities around Subic Bay — the town of Morong in Bataan, the municipalities of San Antonio and Subic in Zambales, and Olongapo City. With financial assistance from the SBMA, the SBIFARMC has been able to implement various projects, such as the manufacture and installation of 60 artificial reef modules in the coastal areas of Morong, Subic Bay, and San Antonio, Zambales.

The SBMA assistance has also provided livelihood projects to SBIFARMC members and benefited their children through a scholarship program. In the recent “Araw ng Mangingisda” celebration, the SBIFARMC organized a three-kilometer fun run to raise funds for its upcoming advocacy projects. The fun run also helped raise awareness on environmental protection and marine resources conservation.

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