TUGUEGARAO CITY -- Clear blue waters, long walks along impeccable beaches, lush forests, bountiful and varied seafood – scenes that always evoke images of top-notch tourist spots.
But did you know that all these can be found right here in Region 2? That’s right. The place is none other than the town of Claveria in Cagayan – widely acknowledged as the Coastal Paradise of the North.
Claveria is situated in the northwestern tip of Luzon. It is the second municipality right after Sta. Praxedes, Cagayan which is considered as the gateway to the Ilocos Region. As such, it is a coastal municipality with a 13.16-kilometer stretch of coastline, with 14 coastal barangays out of its 41 barangays. It has a total land area of 19,480 hectares.
Claveria is a third class municipality and also considered as a commercial center, as adjacent municipalities (both coastal and inland) conduct trading activities in the area. Residents from the island municipality of Calayan also do business in the municipality, bringing with them agriculture and fishery products.
Firm stance against illegal fishing
As one of the 12 municipalities along the entire stretch of Babuyan Channel – the prime fishing ground in Region 2, Claveria has strong institutional support and mechanisms to guard against illegal fishing.
In year 2000, the municipality came up with its Basic Municipal Fisheries Ordinance localizing Republic Act No. 8550 (The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998).
Among others, the ordinance included provisions for the classification of municipal waters and foreshore areas including one for the declaration of Municipal Sanctuaries, establishment of Closed Fishing Season, protection of corals, ban on catching juvenile fisheries resources, grant of fishing privileges, fishery licenses and permits, regulations on aquaculture, creation of Municipal Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (MFARMC) and prohibitions and penalties.
After the Basic Municipal Fisheries Ordinance, the municipality had also enacted other ordinances tackling specific fisheries-related issues. The formation of MFARMC has greatly aided the municipality in the implementation of its fisheries laws as well as other programs related to fisheries.
In fact, in recognition of its outstanding accomplishments, the Claveria-MFARMC was adjudged second Best MFARMC and Best MFARMC nationwide under the Gawad Saka Awards for the period 2011-2013.
In 2007 to 2014, the municipality was included as one of the project sites of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – funded and Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) – led special project, the Integrated Coastal Resources Management Project (ICRMP).
Under these, mangrove reforestation, formation of fisherfolk associations, provision of alternative livelihood to ease fishing pressure, policy and institutional strengthening, biodiversity conservation and improvement of social and environmental service and facilities, were conducted.
Up to this time, the Local Government Unit has carried on with its Fisheries Resource Management activities, as can be seen in their Annual Investment Program for the years 2014 to 2017.
The LGU formed its Fisheries Law Enforcement Team composed of 30 Deputy Fish Warden back in 2012. The FLET works with FLEA (Fisheries Law Enforcement Agencies), such as the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to curb illegal fishing in their area. Budget is Php 2,818,823 for CY 2015 and increased by 10 percent in CY 2017.
Due to various interventions, fish catch in the municipality has increased, as determined thru the National Stock Assessment Program (NSAP) of BFAR.
Even before the launching of fisherfolk, fishing gear and fishing boat registration under the FishR and BoatR programs, the municipality had already in place such mechanism, as provided for in its Basic Municipal Fisheries Ordinance.
Color-coding and proper numbering of fishing boats is observed. In recognition of its outstanding implementation of BoatR, the municipality was included in the first 100 municipalities nationwide to complete its BoatR in 2016.
To empower women fisherfolk, increase income from fishing and dissuade illegal fishing practices, the municipality awarded a number of “NEGOcart” plus capital to wives of fishermen, for the selling of fish and other food items.
Fishery resource sustainability
To ensure sustainability, the municipality imposed a closed season on the catching of Goby fry locally known as Ipon, and imposed regulations on the catching of barnacles and shrimps. The municipality has also in place regulation on the operation of fish aggregating devices (payao).
Supplemental livelihood takes the form of various livelihood projects (aquaculture, post-harvest and capture fisheries) implemented and distributed in the municipality, not only to affected fishers, but all others who are qualified.
The Basic Municipal Fisheries Ordinance provided for the establishment of 4 Marine Protected Areas or MPAs in the municipality, but only one is formalized and declared to date. This is the Taggat Norte MPA. It has a total area of 903.08 hectares with Fish Sanctuary of 21.49 hectares.
The MPA is thoroughly monitored with its management plan in place. It has a guardhouse alongside regular patrols. It was demarcated by LGU Claveria, Taggat Norte Fisherfolk Association, BFAR RO2 and DENR with marker buoys. Assessment conducted by BFAR RO2 revealed that there is a regeneration of corals, sea grasses, and increase in the production of clams, abalones, mollusk, fishes and other marine high-valued species.
The Taggat Norte Fisherfolk Association was also awarded a livelihood project under the ICRMP, specifically water recreation activities (snorkel, diving, boat riding and trekking) to promote tourism nearby in the area.
Clean coastal waters
Claveria is considered as a major tourism area with its pristine beaches and rivers, the natural landmarks (Lakay-lakay), bird watching area and lush forests. Newly built is a coastal road linking the fish port to the tourism inns, hostels and the town center.
To support the thriving tourism industry, the municipality has in place a strong waste management mechanism. This is embodied in its Ecological Solid Waste Management Plan 2016-2025, even before the municipality was adjudged as one of the “Cleanest and Greenest” towns.
Apart from the ESWM plan, the municipality has relevant legislations in place such as anti-littering law and "no segregation, no collection" policy. Materials Recovery Facilities are present in each barangay alongside a central waste processing facility.
A sanitation survey revealed that 98 percent of households has sanitary toilets. Settlements without such facility are provided for by the LGU.
The municipality together with the DENR conducts regular tree planting activities in the upland areas. For the period 2015 to 2016, 144,000 seedlings composed of coffee, tamarind, narra, bignay, mahogany, agoo and others were planted. This doubles as source of livelihood for the residents.
An innovative waste-management project is the alternative livelihood project awarded to fisherfolk and farmers. The municipality provided the recipients with Php 10,000.00 capital for the buy and sell of recyclable materials, that in turn are sold to junk shops in the town.
Effective mangrove protection and rehabilitation program
Mangrove planting started with the ICRMP with about 125,000 mangrove propagules. Unlike other coastal towns, the municipality only has strips or small parcel of lands considered as mangrove area.
In 2016, the municipality collaborated with the BFAR RO2, DOST-PhilLIDAR for the implementation of PhilLIDAR, a coastal resource assessment and mapping project. Information derived greatly aids the municipality in its various CRM, fishery and environment activities. Also, encapsulated in the Executive Legislative Agenda for 2013 -2016, are priority programs and projects that would address environment, agri/fishery issues that would help attain the vision of Claveria. (PNA)