Posted by: Jimely Flores | January 30, 2014

Closing Davao Gulf may not be the best option-2

The first blog with the same title was mistakenly removed by the author.

Davao Gulf is a body of water in the southeastern Philippines bounded by the Provinces of Davao del Sur (10 Municipalities including Davao City), Davao del Norte (3), Compostela Valley (3) and Davao Oriental (4). These coastal municipalities are populated with highly diverse cultural, religious and ethnic heritages. To name some ethnic groups (mentioned in no particular order): Bisaya, Ilokano, Waray, Ilongo, Tausog, Maranao, Samal, Tagalog, etc); within which are still very diverse cultural and ethnic niches. The continous waters of Davao Gulf do not reflect the subtle cultural boundaries that exist on land.

Davao Gulf is also a body of water with so much natural resources capital. The natural resources and socio-economic assessment of Davao Gulf was conducted by the University of the Philipines in the Visayas. Some of the commercially important species such as the large and small pelagic fishes are also monitored by BFAR 11.

At present there is a move to close the Gulf for certain fishing activities. That could be good but unfortunately the reasons of the closure is not well established. There is no solid evidence and relationships between the problems presented, the status of the resources and the solutions. Adding insult to injury, there is further no solid plan for a successful compliance and implementation of the proposed closure regulation.

In the roster of management schemes and tools available, closure is the last and most severe option. And it should be done most carefully as the impacts are great. In the case of Davao Gulf, the basic requirements were not even available. These are: characterization and quantification of the socio-economic impacts of closure considering the diverse culture of stakeholders, current status of the resources, in-depth analysis of the issues and problems and a solid and practical management scheme with appropriate timeline and achievable goal. Without these basic information, even the most severe management scheme will not work. Worst it may just create more complex problems.

I therefore urge the proponents of the closure to be more mindful of the ecosystem web. Nothing exists in isolation, life’s network is not a linear twine but a web of myriad interconnections that a single capsule could not relieve all fevers. Closure is not the single solution to all fisheries problems.

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