September 14, 2016

La Union’s Poro Marine Protected Area ordinance takes effect, mobilizes locals as its guardians

Poro Sea Lovers Association
Photo above shows members of Poro Sea Lovers Association coming from patrol training as part of their roles as guardians of the 173-hectare marine protected area (MPA) in Barangay Poro, San Fernando City, La Union

The city government of San Fernando recently passed City Ordinance No. 2015-03 “An Ordinance Establishing the Poro Marine Protected Area (MPA), Creating Its Management Council and Providing for Its Management”. The MPA was created to help conserve, protect and develop the marine resources of coastal communities along San Fernando Bay. The new city ordinance aims to address a better clarification of management functions and pursue sustainable options as well as allow the seafood sources to recover its loss.

Among the members of the MPA management council is the people’s organization, the Poro Sea Lovers Association (PSLA), comprised of environment-conscious members of the community of Poro, most of which are fisher folks engaged in social enterprises such as food and catering services, aside from serving as MPA guardians.

PSLA was created based on a five-year, Php9.7M partnership between Chevron Philippines, Inc. (CPI), marketer of Caltex fuels and lubricants, the Institute of Social Order (ISO) and the City of San Fernando. Poro MPA is located in San Fernando Bay which is found evident of depleted fishery resources, degraded fish habitats, and inadequate fisheries policies.

“We are optimistic that with the signing of the MPA, we can somehow demonstrate that the local government and the private sector can work together to achieve sustainable environmental management. We hope that with the cooperation of the local community, the local government and private enterprises such as Chevron, this project will be such a showcase”, said Liza Lim, ISO’s Executive Director.

The project has been drawing interest from other stakeholders, thereby strengthening its sustainability components. In addition to technical support, the city government likewise provided an additional Php50,000 grant to include rice trading among PSLA's social enterprise ventures. Poro Point Management Corporation, on the other hand, has adopted the project as a channel for its corporate social responsibility efforts. The project partners are also pursuing partnerships with local academic institutions and regional government service offices for environmental research, social enterprise development and skills training.

“We are pleased that the MPA ordinance is now in effect. Thanks to Chevron’s support, it will definitely increase fish catch and the income of the fisher folks in our coastal communities,” said Elsie Bejar, ISO’s Officer in Charge in La Union.

Chevron, which maintains an oil terminal in Poro Point, believes that supporting projects that address human needs, protect the environment, and help small business are important factors in the economic growth and well-being of communities.

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