Dagupan City Mayor Belen Fernandez delivers her speech on the city’s support for ICM before representatives from 53 coastal municipalities and cities during the First Integrated Coastal Management Congress held at Leisure Coast in Bonuan Binloc on April 4. (CIO photo by Jojo Tamayo)

DAGUPAN CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Regional Office 1, conducted  the first-ever Integrated Coastal Management Congress at Leisure Coast Resort in Bonuan Binloc, Dagupan City on April 4 and 5, attended by personnel of 53 coastal municipalities and cities in the Ilocos region.

The Integrated Coastal Management or ICM refers to natural resources and environmental ecosystem-based management framework which employs an integrative, logistic management approach and an interactive planning process in addressing the complex management cases of the coastal areas.

The two-day congress, with the theme “Upscaling Efforts on ICM for Sustainable and Resilient Coastal and Marine Ecosystems”, aimed to address coastal geo-hazards and discuss sustainable management approaches among local government units’ for them to be able to further improve the marine biodiversity in their coastal areas and protect its  ecosystems.

Dagupan City Mayor Belen T. Fernandez  discussed what the city has so far undertaken in managing its own problem to clean the river,  which resulted in the dismantling of over 970 illegal fish pens, as well as in convincing  fisherfolks to acquire an Aqua Lease Agreement with the city so that they can be issued business permits and license plates for their authorized fish cages.

Fernandez also expressed the city’s full commitment to the collaborative and sustained effort in coastal resource management, saying: “The acknowledgement and praise heaped upon Dagupan by the global community is the greater inspiration for the city to take the next step by enjoining other local governments along the Western sea board to jointly undertake remedial measures to keep the oceans clean, spur marine biodiversity and attract high-end tourist market in the country.”

Biodiversity Management Bureau Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim hailed Dagupan City’s awareness and exemplary efforts in the protection of its rivers and estuaries, saying:  “It’s already being showcased in international meetings. I hope that we would be able to replicate this practice not just in the Philippines, but in other areas in the ASEAN region as well. I’m looking forward to working closely with Mayor Fernandez in another capacity.”

Corollary to this, all coastal local government units signed a commitment dubbed as the “Dagupan City Declaration” in line with the government’s responsibility to manage, protect and conserve all their resources within their administrative jurisdictions as embodied under RA 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991 and in consonance with the provision of RA 8550 or the Fisheries Code, as amended by RA 10654.

The declaration called on the LGUs to act as the frontline agencies in the formulation, planning and implementation of ICM programs in their respective coastal marine areas in line with the National ICM Program. (Verdelle De Vera/CIO/Apr. 4, 2018)