The Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape is a large embayment that covers six coastal municipalities of Sarangani province in southern Philippines. Home to threatened marine wildlife like dolphins, whale sharks, dugongs, and sea turtles, the bay also hosts rich biodiversity, such as coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves. Illegal and destructive fishing, poor solid waste management and other human activities, however, put biodiversity within the protected seascape at risk.
USAID, through its Protect Wildlife project, hosted a training for the members of Bantay Dagat (sea patrols) of Maasim municipality. The Bantay Dagat task force serves on the frontlines of protecting the Sarangani Bay. Made possible by USAID’s partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, and Philippine National Police, the three-day training was designed to equip Bantay Dagat members with knowledge of and skills in patroling and rescue operations to strengthen community-based environmental law enforcement, and to boost coordination among Sarangani Bay stakeholders, including local government units, coastal communities, and national government agencies.
Through the training, Bantay Dagat members developed a common understanding of the state of environmental and fisheries law enforcement in Sarangani Bay and gained knowledge of the Fisheries Code, Wildlife Act, and other relevant fisheries and environmental laws. They also learned their roles and responsibilities in line with the seascape’s enforcement protocol and the procedures on conducting arrests, searches, seizures and detention, and filing of criminal cases.
The trainees participated in practical exercises, such as detection of illegally caught fish, photo documentation and information gathering, as well as discussions of operation and tactical matters, such as boarding procedures, and planning for regular patrol. The training will also be held in other municipalities that cover Sarangani Bay. (PWP/ May Anne Ramos)