Bataan in Full Force towards Sustainable Coastal and Marine Management
Makati City, Philippines - Remaining true to its objectives, the Provincial Government of Bataan together with the civil society and a consortium of Bataan-based companies (i.e., the Bataan Coastal Care Foundation (BCCF)) continue to set good examples with their continuing partnership to implement the Bataan ICM program.
At the 5th Fellowship Meeting held on 26 February 2009, with Governor Enrique Garcia, Jr. leading Bataan's local government leaders, 17 members of the BCCF were represented, along with representatives of civil society groups and the provincial environmental office. PEMSEA was represented by Prof. Raphael P.M. Lotilla, PRF Executive Director.
Ms. Malu Erni, President of BCCF and Executive Director of Petron Foundation, highlighted the key accomplishments of the Foundation over the years, including:
- Increase in number of BCCF’s member companies from 17 in 2002 to 23 at present;
- Implementation of Bataan's Coastal Land- and Sea-use Zoning Plan (CLSUZP) with technical descriptions for the establishment of municipal water boundaries certified by NAMRIA, and a unified zoning ordinance drafted with the objective to govern the CLSUZP implementation for the whole province;
- Integration of the Land- and Water-Use Development Plan for the Municipality of Abucay as part of the Comprehensive Land-Use Plan already nearing completion;
- Mangrove planting conducted annually, and now covering a total of 45 hectares, with 47,000 seedlings and 337,000 propagules planted;
- Coastal clean up activities covering 156 km of the 188-km coastline of the province (83 percent);
- Regular Talisay River clean up, which is a major tributary of Manila Bay;
- Establishment of the Ecological Waste Management Program;
- Establishment of artificial reefs (600 units established in Limay, Mariveles and Orion’s municipal waters) and fish sanctuaries;
- Establishment of Bataan as a birdwatching site in the Philippines with 15,700 bird count and 30 species;
- Campaign against illegal fishing, resulting in the arrest of 216 suspected illegal fishers and confiscation of 22 fishing vessels, fine-mesh nets and other outlawed fishing gears from January to December 2008; and
- Resolution on closure of the whole Manila Bay against commercial fishing passed. (RDC III-RPOC III-RDCC III Joint Resolution No. 03-01-2008).
In addition to the BCCF accomplishments, Governor Garcia also informed the Meeting of the Province's efforts in sectors such as on health, infrastructure and education. The Governor further encouraged the members of the BCCF to continue their efforts and assured the BCCF of the Provincial Government's commitment and support to the long-term implementation of the ICM program in Bataan.
PEMSEA Executive Director Raphael P.M. Lotilla commended the BCCF on its achievements, adding that these can serve as an inspiration to various local governments as well as with the private sector in other parts of the East Asian Seas region.
Building on its accomplishments, the BCCF together with the Provincial Government of Bataan have identified the full implementation of the CLSUZP as a key priority to ensure that every town and city of Bataan faithfully executes the zoning requirements, which includes the issuance of relevant ordinances and full compliance to these new regulations. Implementation of the CLSUZP will form part of the three-year work plan being developed by the Project Management Office (PMO) of Bataan with support from the Province’s Project Coordinating Committee and the PEMSEA Resource Facility.
The highlight of the meeting was the signing of a Certificate of Commitment by the Provincial Government of Bataan, BCCF and PEMSEA to sustain the public-private partnership for the implementation of the Bataan ICM Program. In the Certificate, the parties pledged to "attain the vision of a well-developed community with an abundant natural resource, clean environment and responsible citizenry empowered and committed to care for nature and its bounty", as well as to continue to forge partnerships with every stakeholder of the province while helping provide "sustainable solutions to the environmental concerns of Manila Bay and the Seas of East Asia."
The Province of Bataan will host the forthcoming Forum of the PEMSEA Network of Local Governments for Sustainable Coastal Development in November 2009.