Bantay Dagat is the
term coined to describe the practice of sea patrol by volunteers. The strategy originated
in Cebu in the 1970s, and was conceptualized when illegal fishing and over exploitation of
marine resources were so rampant in the area causing an alarming decrease in the
communitys fish catch. The threat was that if fish catch continued to decrease,
meeting the fish requirement of the community would even be more difficult.
The community decided to take an immediate
action to reverse the decline of the fish production. Since the government could not
provide men to regularly patrol the sea, they decided to volunteer their services using
their own facilities such as boats, lights, and other needed equipment. The purpose was to
stop destructive fishing practices and reduce pressure in coastal waters.
The usual practice when violators were
apprehended was to just issue a warning and subject the first-time offenders to a brief
lecture on the importance of taking care of the coastal environment.
Strengthening the Strategy
To achieve a positive and measurable impact
in coastal resource management, the government recognized that opportunities for
partnership with the fisherfolks/communities should be enhanced. Various laws and
guidelines were issued which has strengthened the strategy.
Barangay Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
Management Council (BFARMC) serves in an advisory capacity to the local government unit.
Among its functions is to assist the enforcement of fishery laws, rules and regulations in
municipal waters. The regular members of the BFARMC is composed of the chairperson of the Sangguniang
Barangay Committee on Agriculture/Fisheries; one representative each from the Barangay
Development Council, accredited non-government organization, and private sector; and at
least eight representatives of the fisherfolks. The Council maintains a registry of
fisherfolks in their area.
It is further strengthened by the
Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 (Republic Act 8550). It is stipulated in its Section 24
that members of fisherfolks associations may be designated by the Department of
Agriculture as fish wardens in the enforcement of fishery laws, rules, and regulations,
provided they have undergone training on law enforcement.
law also mandates various government agencies, such as Department of Environment and
Natural Resources, Department of Agriculture, Department of Interior and Local Government,
Philippine Coast Guard, etc., and other agencies concerned with the management,
protection, conservation, and development of fisheries and aquatic resources to provide
continuous technical assistance to the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council
(FARMC). The assistance includes organizational strengthening, law enforcement, legal and
human right assistance, fisherfolk settlement, training, among others. BFAR monitors the
assistance extended to the Council at all levels.
The Bantay Dagat proved to be a very
successful enforcement strategy that provide for swift public action to stop destructive
fishing practices and illegal commercial fishing in municipal waters. The strategy
provides direct benefit and equity to the larger number of fishers and coastal
stakeholders employing legal and sustainable methods and serve as the deterrent to those
violating national and local laws.
strategy | critical factors
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date documented: November