A summit of four governors and 22 mayors of coastal areas facing the Visayan Sea is set in Cebu City on February 16 to 17, environment lawyer Antonio Oposa said yesterday.
The governors of the four provinces participating in the summit are Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu, Arthur Defensor of Iloilo, Alfredo Marañon Jr. of Negros Occidental and Rizalina Seachon-Leanete of Masbate.
In a meeting in Sagay City earlier, the governors committed to use their collective powers and resources to restore and conserve the marine resources of the Visayan Triangle beginning with the Visayan Sea.
The governors also said that, before their terms end in 2013, they will take the necessary steps to seek the declaration of the 1 million-hectare Visayan Sea as a United Nations World Heritage Site for its unparalleled marine wealth, which they called the heart of marine biodiversity on earth in their declaration of commitment.
Oposa said that, since the Sagay meeting, Garcia has created in a Cebu a marine conservation office that serves as a quick reaction unit against abuses in the Visayan Sea.
A meeting of the mayors and stakeholders in Iloilo whose localities face the Visayan Sea will be held today and Oposa said he will urge Defensor to create a similar marine conservation office.
He said Negros Occidental’s problemare illegal fishing from vessels coming from neighboring areas such as Cebu.
The first order of business is to restore law and order in the open sea and to go after commercial fishing boats with no licenses, Oposa said.
The second order of business is to begin restoration activities such as the setting up of marine sanctuaries, he added
He said the target is also to go after syndicates producing blasting materials used for dynamite fishing, he added.*CPG