Sat. Jul 31st, 2021

Platform for a Department of Fisheries Archipelagic and Maritime Philippines: A case study on Integrated Coastal Zone Management

(Second of a Series of 3)

Blueprint for a Blue Economy

By Albert A. Encomienda

Why ICZM for archipelagic Philippines, extrapolated to the ASEAN and Central Indo-Pacific (Part 2) 

This is not to say that there is no integrated coastal management effort or awareness in the Philippines, practical experience that would serve a good starting point for program dissemination.

Eight years ago President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 533 dated 06 June 2006 entitled Integrated Coastal Management Policy (ICM).

 The general policy statement, which captures the essential elements above, follows; “The ICM and related approaches, such as coastal resource management or coastal zone management, shall be the national management policy framework to promote the sustainable development of the country’s coastal and marine environment and resources in order to achieve food security, sustainable livelihood, poverty alleviation and reduction of vulnerability to natural hazards, while preserving ecological integrity.” 

A year later, the DENR and DA/BFAR, together with 8 partner provinces and 80 municipalities all over the country, launched the Integrated Coastal Resource Management Project (ICRMP), which is considered as a “related approach” to ICM. The project duration was 28 June 2007 to 20 June 2013.

Recalling recent natural disaster scenarios impacting on health and livelihood of coastal communities in the Philippines. 

The following are recent natural disaster scenarios recalled to create greater awareness and focus on calamities inflicting heavy damage to coastal communities over a wide area of the country.

In these sample cases, the natural disasters were happening so close to one another that the recovery phases for each would overlap with another, creating tapestry depicting a nationwide calamity area.

These recent serial disaster events demonstrate that in the archipelago configuration and geographic location of the Philippines and other coastal communities in the ASEAN and the Central Indo-Pacific, multiple natural disaster impacts including adverse effects of climate change, can happen virtually at the same time. In any such disaster, impacts to health and livelihood can be minimized through sustainable ocean governance in an integrated coastal zone management scheme.

Within a year of each other, there was the high intensity Bohol earthquake followed by a super-typhoon that generated a super-storm surge and a freak oil spill in the coastal municipality of Estancia in Iloilo City, the collective effects of which was still being felt more than a year after the disasters.

To highlight certain recent disaster events in the Philippines and socio-economic costs:

Bohol earthquake – Intensity 7.2 Bohol earthquake had its epicenter in the middle of the island and coastal livelihood did not suffer too much. It is cited here because, calling attention to our archipelago configuration and its geographical location within the Pacific “ring of fire,” an Aceh-type disaster scale cannot be ruled out if an earthquake (volcanic or tectonic) epicenter happens out at sea or even in the outskirts of its maritime jurisdictions as in the great Sendai earthquake in Japan; an ever present likelihood.

Yolanda” super-typhoon – The impact of super-typhoon Yolanda, with multiplied physical destruction due to an accompanying super-storm surge and its impact on fishing communities, would serve as a most tragic back-to-back wake-up call with regard to the current mismanagement and serious neglect of fisheries resources in the country.

Beyond the physical damage in central Philippines, a serious adverse impact was in livelihood and health of the population. The extent of the cost to coastal fisheries livelihood can be depicted in the form of gratuitous over replacement of thousands of fishing boats, and the graphic account of hunger and prolonged loss of livelihood in the affected coastal communities that elicited worldwide sympathy and assistance.

Guimaras oil spill – This is just one among a few recent small-scale example of an ever-present threat of extensive damage to coastal livelihood from oil spill, from whatever source. Toxic and hazardous goods (attention also to the Princess of the Stars incident which carried loads of chemicals for fertilizer manufacture) are inevitably transported all over the country by sea.

The Guimaras incident is a minor incident as far as oil spills happen, but the cost to health and livelihood of the affected communities was serious enough to negatively affect the economic performance of the country on the year of the incident.

Another sample of an oil spill incident is a freak but indicative that anything can happen in the archipelago situation of the Philippines and elsewhere among coastal communities in the ASEAN and Central Indo-Pacific.

This occurred in Estancia, Iloilo City and was not even a maritime incident but related to super-typhoon Yolanda. A floating power-barge was lifted off its mooring by the super-typhoon and spilled oil over a large swath of the coast.

Beyond localized oil spills, the country must be forewarned of what are accidents waiting to happen in its western stretch of EEZ posed by present and future offshore oil drilling sites not to mention drilling within archipelagic and internal waters, and sea lanes for supertankers and large cargo carriers loaded with toxic and hazardous goods. The Torrey Canyon, Exxon Valdes, and the Prestige II maritime incidents, and the Gulf of Mexico offshore oil spill incident would be case studies where ICZM can introduce precautionary measures and minimize damage to coastal resources and environment.

Smaller-scale incidents but a recurring serious threat to the health and livelihood of coastal communities is “red tide” and “fish kills” (not necessarily from natural causes) wherein contamination can spread very quickly on account of the country being an archipelago. Appropriate governance measures would minimize or anticipate, if not totally prevent, such incidents.

The above sample incidents can have trans-border consequences, and are demonstrations of vulnerability of the Philippines on account of its archipelago configuration and geographic location, to severe natural calamities, aggravated by human neglect. Moreover, these can happen almost simultaneously and causing economic disruption throughout the length and breadth of the archipelago. They are extreme national calamity scenarios that did and could happen in other coastal communities in ASEAN and the Central Indo-Pacific.

There is no doubt that multiple disaster impacts are a new phenomenon aggravated by climate change. But the Philippines is a small developing country whose pollution emission by-products of development efforts cannot be factored as contributing in any significant degree to climate change.

Nevertheless, the country is at the receiving end of the deleterious results of climate change – all the greater reason why, in addition to disaster preparedness, livelihood resilience through ICZM must be built into national governance and food security.

Other similar calamity scenarios would be severe monsoon weather, prolonged dry spells, earthquakes that could generate tsunamis and coastal infrastructure destruction, benign regular weather patterns such as inter-tropical convergence zones and low pressure areas, El Nino/La Nina phenomenon, which are aggravated by climate change and cause torrential rains, flash floods and heavy sea conditions; weather/climate interactions that are the causes of production deficiencies between land-based and marine-based aspects of agriculture.

Awareness alarm call on “political disasters.” 

In addition to multiple natural disaster impacts, regional political events as presently exemplified in the South China Sea can also affect health and livelihood of coastal communities.

For example, artisanal fisherfolk in the Provinces of Zambales and Pangasinan, feel compelled to range farther out from shore into sea areas under jurisdictional disputes because of depleted fish stocks closer to shore, and are then prevented by enforcement elements of foreign countries to undertake fishing activities (The Philippine Star 21-May-2014, p.14 entitled “Leviathan turns Filipino fishermen into desperate darters).

The coastal communities of the provinces of Zambales and Pangasinan are cases in point; with western Palawan and the northernmost provinces of Luzon as potential areas for similar actions.

Political events such as the Spratlys archipelago and Scarborough shoal stand-off situation, may be temporary and can even subsequently generate a desired regional cooperation for marine resources management if ocean governance is initiated and instituted even unilaterally at the outset.

While politically colored events are a different disaster story altogether, it could be tempered through cooperative ocean governance measures.

The problem in regard to the artisanal fisherfolk in coastal Zambales and Pangasinan facing loss of livelihood is, as reported in the news media, on account of their being prevented from fishing in traditional fishing grounds in the Panatag/Scarborough shoal.

The cause of the problem is attributed to Filipino fisherfolk being denied access to those traditional fishing grounds by Chinese Coast Guard and Fisheries Agency vessels especially during a seasonal fishing ban imposed by China.

While it is a fact that Chinese Coast Guard and Fisheries Agency vessels are preventing access to Panatag/Scarborough shoal, this event alone should not cause serious disruption in livelihood of Zambales/Pangasinan artisanal fisherfolk.

The Panatag/Scarborough shoal is not the only fishing area accessible to them, especially areas closer to shore. The real and underlying cause of the problem is that coastal fisherfolk are forced to range farther from the coast towards Panatag/Scarborough shoal, more than a hundred nautical miles from the coast and thus well beyond the normal range of artisanal fishing, because of serious depletion of fish stocks nearer the coast as a result of years of mismanagement of these resources.

This is not a question of the right of Filipino artisanal fisherfolk to fish in Panatag/Scarborough Shoal; asserting that right is a political game among governments and fisherfolk is collateral damage. The question is whether artisanal fishing in the Panatag/Scarborough shoal is all that critical to the health and livelihood of coastal communities in the Provinces of Zambales and Pangasinan  whereas they should rather be fishing closer to shore.

(To be Concluded)

Awareness alarm call on “political disasters.” (Part 2)

An interesting localized ICZM model and template

Initiating ICZM as an ASEAN Vision 2025 Social-Cultural Broad Characteristic.


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