Friday, July 19, 2013

Solidarity Action for the Protection of Bicol Seas and Marine Ecosystems highlights visit of Greenpeace’s MY Esperanza in Donsol

MY Esperanza
By: Bennie A. Recebido

DONSOL, SORSOGON, July 19 (PIA) – More than a thousand of Sorsoganons are expected to participate in a rare but solid community action against activities detrimental to the protection of the Bicol Seas and sustaining Marine Ecosytem in the Bicol Region especially that of Burias-Ticao Pass and Donsol waters, on Saturday, July 20, 2013 to be held in Donsol, Sorsogon.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Media Assistant AC Dimatatac in a coordination meeting with PIA Sorsogon said, the Local Government Units (LGUs) of Sorsogon, Albay and Masbate in collaboration with Greenpeace‘s Ocean Defender Tour Philippine Leg Bicol stop initiated the solidarity activity dubbed as “Lakbay Para sa Kadagatan, Pasiring sa Sustenableng Pangisdaan” (Walk for the Seas, Moving to Sustainable Fisheries).

“The solid community action will gather fisher folks, LGUs and government agency officials, environment advocates, church leaders, scientists, civil society and non-government organization representatives as they call on efficient program implementation and stricter enforcement of laws to ensure protection of the Bicol seas,” said Ms. Dimatatac.

Government officials are also invited to include Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Sorsogon 1st District Representative Evie Escudero, Sorsogon Governor Raul R. Lee, Albay Governor Joey S. Salceda, Masbate Governor Rizalina S. Lanete, Pilar town Mayor Dennis Sy-Reyes and Donsol Municipal Mayor Josephine Alcantara-Cruz to render Message of Commitment.

Ms. Dimatatac also said that issues and concerns raised during the Forum of Fisher Folks and Bantay Dagat in October last year will be re-visited and with the commitment to be given by the government leaders and stakeholders who will be there, hopefully certain problems will be addressed.

The activity will be highlighted with a Solidarity Walk for the Sea where participating stakeholders will hold a unity walk from Donsol Municipal Park and will converge in Dancalan Beach for other activities. Mass for the Integrity of Creation and Blessing will also be offered.

Following a community program, where messages from various officials will be delivered and testimonies of best practices will be shared, a Fisher folk Flotilla will be held.

Said Fisher folk Flotilla will gather thousands of fisher folks who will sail the seas of Burias-Ticao Pass and will symbolically mark the municipal waters with their boats and declare it off-limits to commercial fishers. More than 200 motorbancas will be joining the activity.

Media were also invited to cover the event and a press conference will be conducted. Greenpeace and local partners are also open to a one-on-one media interviews.

The call to save Burias-Ticao Pass from marine degradation and overfishing and to enforce 15-km municipal waters will be plastered in a creatively designed banner and will be signed by the newly elected officials from the municipal, provincial, congressional and up to the senate level.

Likewise, Greenpeace’s iconic ship MY Esperanza, fresh from its tour apprehending destructive fishing activities in Thailand and promoting in a grand way for an oceans solution, will be in Donsol on July 20.

The visit of MY Esperanza in Burias-Ticao Pass and in waters of Donsol is part of its contribution to the existing initiatives to protect the said bodies of water and rid it from destruction such as illegal fishing and overfishing. “Donsol, being one of the top tourist destinations in the world must also be protected against marine ecosystems degradation,” said Ms. Dimatatac.

“The presence of the ship here will help us move forward the campaign against overfishing by highlighting the problem due to the presence of illegal commercial fishing vessels and the need for solutions work,” she further added.

Burias-Ticao Pass is the body of water between Sorsogon and Masbate considered to be the Manta Bowl, while Donsol is the Whale Shark Capital of the Philippines. They are among the areas in the world with highest concentrations of plankton due to the strong currents from San Bernardino Strait. These currents push large groups of plankton and other organisms to gather in the area, making this an ideal cleaning and feeding stations for the manta ray and whalesharks.

MY Esperanza was also in Apo Island in Dumaguete on June 9, 2013 to inspire their local communities that there is still hope for Apo Island Marine Reserves.  It can be noted that strong typhoons have brought serious destructions to the island’s marine sanctuary.

The community activity on Saturday will be culminated by a Boodle Fight to symbolize that everyone present is in agreement in protecting seas and sustaining marine ecosystem in Bicol. (BARecebido, PIA Sosogon)

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