Southern towns push for ‘uniform’ coastal policies in Panay Gulf

UNIFORM POLICIES Miagao Municipal Agriculturist and SICRIMC Trustee Raymundo Monroy emphasizes the need for a uniform policy in the coastal management of Southern Iloilo Coast or Panay Gulf. (Angelika N. Buergo)

THE municipal agriculturists of Miagao, Oton, Tigbauan, Guimbal and San Joaquin called for a uniform and synchronized implementation of policies in the coastal waters of Panay Gulf.

The agriculturists requested for the reactivation of the Southern Iloilo Coastal Resource Management Council (SICRMC) to oversee the implementation of ordinances and the management of the coast in accordance with its vision of consistent with the goals of sustainable development.

Miagao Municipal Agriculturist and SICRMC trustee Raymundo Monroy said that the reactivation of the council will enable uniformity and synchronization of ordinances in the five municipalities.

“Nakita naming na kailangang uniform ang intervention na gawin ng five municipalities para maging successful ang coastal resource management program,” Monroy said.

Monroy explained that without a ‘uniform’ policy to govern the five municipalities’ resource management programs, towns would not be obliged to follow their neighboring municipalities’ ordinances, leading to conflict in the common fishing grounds.

“If San Joaquin seizes all fishing activities in a certain month while Miagao declares an open season at the same time, there would be a problem since none of them are actually required to follow the other town’s ordinance, after all, we share the same waters [Panay Gulf],” he added.

Due to disagreements between the town’s heads during the early years of the council, SICRMC ceased to function and the five municipalities decided to create their own coastal management plans and fishing ordinances.

The council was established in 2002 with Miagao as the first host municipality, and went on hiatus during Tigbauan’s turn at the helm.

The reactivation of the SICRMC was requested in a meeting attended by representatives from the five municipalities last August.

This year, neighboring municipalities agreed to reactivate the council to ‘better’ manage the area through uniform policies and identify specific fishing zones.



An integrated zoning plan was adopted by the council to define the municipal terriotorial waters.

In defining the areas in the gulf, different zone for specific fishing gears, mariculture areas, fishpond areas, shell collection, and fish santuaries were also identified.

Agricultural Technologist Eden Nequia said that the integrated zoning plan serves as a spatial plan or map that indicates different zones for different fishing gears.

“Ang goal niya is to avoid multiple use [of fishing gears] conflicts,” she said.

Nequia explained that the the zoning plan regulates the use of fishing gears by assigning a specific zone in the shared coast depending on the fishing gear used.


Illegal fishing

Along the identification of fishing zones, the SICRMC has also addressed problems of illegal fishing activities along the Panay Gulf.

To sort out these issues, the local governments partnered with the University of the Philippines Visayas’ Institute of Fisheries Policy and Development Studies (IFPDS) to act as an advisory body for the council.

IFPDS University Extension Specialist Gena Serofia said that during the active years of the council, a partnership with the coastguard was formed to monitor the coastal activities, which curbed the number of illegal fishers in Panay Gulf.

“One of the accomplishments [of the council], ang illegal fishing activities naghagan-hagan,” she said.

But the partnership with the Coast Guard was stopped because of fund shortage.

“The council was not able to sustain the monitoring of the coast because gasoline for boats and payment for labor for those who will monitor were very expensive,” Serofia explained.

The officials are hoping for additional support from the governor, vice governor, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for the reactivation of the project.



Rehabilitation of coastal resources like mangroves and livelihood programs for fishermen are also the primary goals for the re-establishment of the SICRMC.

Panay Gulf or the Southern Iloilo Coast spans 60 kilometers, covering 73 coastal barangays. It is also a source of livelihood for 73,000 residents

The council noted significant decline in the productivity of the coastal waters in the Panay Gulf due to illegal fishing activities and destruction of coral reefs and mangroves.

The SICRMC aims to address this by employing ‘other means’ of income for the fishermen and conducting programs for the rehabilitation of the coast.

“With reactivation of the SICRMC, part of the plan is also the rehabilitation of the resources and providing training for the fisher folk,” Nequia said.

“Once your resources are good, there are enough fishes nga mabuol ang fisher folks, therefore, ma-increase man andang income to be provided for their family. So connected gid ang pag-rehab sa resources sa livelihood,” she added.