The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and various fishery stakeholders worked together to put out a monitoring and evaluation scorecard, a tool to determine and assess the various policy interventions in designated fisheries management areas (FMAs) in the Philippines and to recommend measures for the effective and sustainable administration of the 12 FMAs in the country.

According to Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice president at Oceana that the scorecard is the outcome of an extensive, participatory, consultative, and collaborative process among the civil society organizations and people’s organizations that work closely in the 12 FMAs in the Philippines.

“We are confident it will be useful in monitoring and assessment of sustainability efforts for the country’s marine resources.” Ramos said.

Ramos bared that the various fishery stakeholders collaborated to put out the scorecard are Oceana, Philippine Earth Justice Center, Environmental Defense Fund, Zoological Society of London – Philippines, Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Inc., NGOs for Fisheries Reform, Inc., World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines, Center for Agrarian Reform Empowerment and Transformation, Institute of Social Order, and Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines.

In January 2019 BFAR established the FMA system in the country via Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 263 that encourages all coastal local government units (LGUs) as fisheries managers to take on shared responsibilities with national government and stakeholders for the conservation and sustainable management of their respective FMAs and provide a science-based, transparent, and participatory governance framework for their management.

Under this FAO, each FMA is tasked to set up its own governance structure, through a multisectoral management body to develop its own FMA Plan to guide the policy direction and response of key stakeholders.

Assisted and advised by a scientific advisory group, the management body also sets reference points or critical range of values of performance indicators of fish and formulate harvest control rules that would promote sustainable fishing.

Ramos added that the FMA Scorecard also serves as guide in complying with the said BFAR order. It also serves as a participatory, monitoring and evaluation tool of the implementation process that will be contained in the required yearly report of the FMA Management Body to BFAR.

On September 17, 2020 the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular No. 2020 -121 directing all coastal LGUs including the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to participate and support the DA-BFAR roll-out of the establishment of FMAs.

On July 29, 2020 the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) likewise issued a memorandum enjoining the support of DENR Regional and Field Offices to BFAR’s roll-out of FMAs.

Oceana campaign manager for the effective implementation of the FMA campaign, Rhea Yray-Frossard said the the multi-agency circulars help in getting the buy-in of local governments and regional offices of the agencies to shape relevant sections of the Scorecard.

“It was crafted in such a way that it can be completed in just two hours. It is designed for all relevant government and non-government sectors with flexibility in mind because FMA compliance assessment is useful across the different work streams of the stakeholders,” Frossard said.

Frossard pointed out that in the roll-out process, a series of consultations, meetings, and orientations were conducted in the 12 FMAs through the FMA lead fisheries bureau.

The key element of the FMA Scorecard is the “Checklist” that asks a series of simple questions pertaining to the effective and sustainable management of the FMAs. This “Checklist” focuses on areas to determine compliance status of the FMAs with respect to the existing laws, rules and regulations and the Means of Verification provides for the legal instruments or actions taken.

BFAR’s OIC-assistant director for operations Juan Albaladejo welcomed civil society’s efforts to put out the scorecard. He expressed positive feedback for this game-changing assessment tool.

FMA-8 focal person Ronnie Esmena said that the Scorecard guides them with the needed legal instruments through the Means of Verification in details and in accordance with FAO 263. It will help measure the performance of each FMA, including their own performance as an implementing body of the FMA.

Oceana is an international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. Since 2014, Oceana has been working closely with national and local government agencies, civil society, fisherfolk and other stakeholders to restore abundance of Philippine fisheries and marine resources.