IT’S FISHERS’S TURN TO GIVE BACK THRU MANGROVE REFORESTATION

FOR many decades, fishing or fish hunting have been the primary source of food and incomes of marginal fisherfolks. There are more than 1.6 million fishermen in the country, 1.3 million of whom are operating in the municipal waters. If each of them would plant a minimum of five mangrove propagules, a total of 8 million trees would be easily planted. This number would translate to at least 3.2 million square meters or 3,200 square kilometers of new mangrove forest in just one day of simultaneous planting.

Mangroves provide fish, shrimp, crabs, lobsters, bivalve and gastropod mollusks, and other invertebrates. Equally important as the resources or goods from mangroves are its services, also referred to as the regulatory function. These include coastal protection, erosion control, sediment stabilization, flood regulation, nutrient supply and regeneration, treatment of dissolved and particulate wastes and habitat for wildlife.

Considering the current state of atmospheric changes in the planet due to climate change, mangroves help in reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that results to global warming. As such, mangroves, next to rainforest are considered a major carbon sink of the planet. A mangrove is also man’s first line of defense against the adverse impact of tsunamis, the occurrence of which is now becoming more frequent due to climate change. Tsunamis does not only threaten the lives of coastal communities but also result to damages in livelihoods and shoreline erosion.

The Philippine could boast of its rich mangrove resources being blessed with 40 of the world’s 51 species of mangroves, growing along coastal waters, rivers and their tributaries. But the country’s mangroves are threatened; statistical data shows that from 500,000 hectares in 1918, the country’s mangrove shrank to only 120,500 hectares in 1994. Something bold must be done about it and mangrove reforestation, which is a very important climate change adaptation measure, is the fisheries sectors’ commitment.

On May 26, a nationwide “Puno Ko Sagip-Buhay Mo” Mangrove and Watershed Reforestation Project/Activity was simultaneously conducted. In Region IX, particularly in Zamboanga City, this was held at Salinas, Purok 8, Mampang. The activity was initiated by NAPC-Fisherfolk Sector and Pampano through the 2008 National and Regional Fisherfolk Directors as strongly supported by the Department of Agriculture –Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR). This is part of the annual observance of the 2008 Farmers and Fisherfolk Month with this year’s theme as “Sustainable Fisheries Production Under New Global Threats and Challenges Through Strong Fisherfolk-Government Partnership”.

One thousand five hundred propagules of bakawan were planted, led by the Mampang Seaweeds Planters Association, Leha-Leha Seaweeds Planters Association and BFARMC –Mampang and BFARMC-Mampang.

In the short program, Barangay Captain Jesus L. Dulaca welcomed all guests and planters. Regional Director Gomeraldo P. dela Rama discussed on the rationale of the Nationwide Mangrove Reforestation. Forester Jerry Pollisco, LGU-OCENR and Tito Gadon, CENRO-DENR-9, gave some educational information on global warming in relation to fisheries. The program ended with a closing remark by Rolando Potenciano, Chief, Fisheries Regulatory Division, City Agriculture Office, followed by the awarding of certificates of appreciation.

In his inspirational message, BFAR-IX Regional Director Virgilio A. Alforque urged all concerned especially the youth to actively participate in planting and saving mangroves since it is essential to our marine life. This one day simultaneous mangrove planting would surely make a big difference by giving our mangrove forests a new bounty, healthy look and help lessen the global warming we are experiencing nowadays, he said.

We will not solely benefit from it but also our coastal areas as well, where it would serve as habitat for wildlife. The continuity of the preservation of our mangrove is really a must; hence, we should act now before it’s too late he said, the officials added.

“Puno Ko-Sagip-Buhay Mo” is the fisherfolks’s way of saying that if we would want our coastal areas to provide us on a sustainable basis all the blessings that it had been providing us, more importantly, the safe refuge from the adverse effects of climate change, then every responsible being must do their share to plant a mangrove propagules or a tree sapling not on any other day but now and to continue the efforts throughout their lifetime. (BFAR-IX IEC)

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