An improvement in the sustainable use of critical coastal and marine resources is expected with the P1.3-billion Fish Right program funded by US Agency for International Development (USAID), with about a million people in coastal communities in the Calamianes Island group in northern Palawan standing to benefit.

A two-day law enforcement summit was held in Coron, Palawan where about a hundred officials from national and local governments, civil society organizations and communities discussed strategies to improve efforts to address illegal fishing, mining, quarrying, logging and even wildlife trafficking.

Supported by the USAID, the discussions ended with a declaration of commitment led by the Department of Agriculture undersecretary
for fisheries and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources director, Eduardo Gongona, and US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission John Law.

“The United States government is honored to work alongside Filipinos in advancing sustainable fisheries and provide food, livelihood and coastal protection for all Filipinos,” Law said.

He added the US government should be considered a partner in “building toward productive blue economy” that would bring more prosperity for Filipinos.

It was Law’s first visit to Coron, Palawan, where he participated in a dialogue on illegal fishing with local government officials and municipal fisherfolk.

The local government of Coron and USAID had signed a memorandum of understanding to implement a comprehensive master plan to protect the marine biodiversity in Siete Pecados marine park.

It has become a model for sustainable tourism for other local governments with annual revenues of up to P2 million ($38,700) from tourism user fees, funding regular patrol and monitoring operations. (Melo M. Acuña)