Campaigning to Protect the Sulu Celebes Sea Helps Save the Sardine IndustryCatch of the Week
A multi-pronged information campaign launched early this year aims to promote awareness about the importance of protecting the Sulu Celebes Sea from overfishing, pollution and climate change, among other factors.
Filipinos eat about half a billion cans of sardines each year. Approximately 90% of these canned sardines are made from “tamban” harvested in the seas surrounding Zamboanga Peninsula, specifically called the Sulu Celebes Sea. Of the dozen or so canned sardine factories in the country, eleven are in Zamboanga City.
Last year, the [Philippine] National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) partnered with the Department of Communications of Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) to design an information campaign that would promote greater awareness of protecting the Sulu Celebes Sea.
This came about after recent studies revealed that the sardine stock in the Sulu Celebes Sea is under threat of collapse due to overfishing and many other causes, including pollution and changing climate patterns that constantly endanger marine life.
The Sulu Celebes Sea, also known as the Sulu and Sulawesi Seas, is a vast body of ocean located in the south-western part of the Philippines. It is a subregion inhabited by 35 million people and spans an area of nearly one million square kilometers. The seas are located within the Coral Triangle, described as the global center for marine biodiversity.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNEP), it is one of the most bio-diverse marine ecosystems in the whole world, having a large number of different marine life species not found in other oceans. In addition to that, the Sulu Celebes Sea also provides majority of the livelihood of the residents of the islands in the region. Through the years, numerous studies have shown that there has been a decrease in the fishery resources due to various threats both human and natural.
The NFRDI, an agency of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource (BFAR), is engaged in a multi-country project to improve the condition of fisheries and their habitats in the Sulu-Celebes Sea. The project is called the Sulu-Celebes Sea Sustainable Fisheries Management Project (SCS-SFMP) and is done in partnership with Malaysia and Indonesia.
For related information on the SCS-SFMP, read this report, “A sustainable fishing mission that helps the Philippines” by Loqal.ph.
The Lana Sardinas Information Campaign project was launched in March and is part of the SCS-SFMP initiative to bring about awareness to the public, specifically to little children. It is a three-pronged marketing campaign with a storybook, a musical puppet play, and an animated video intended to raise awareness on the present state of the Sulu-Celebes Sea and how it can be saved and protected.
The story is about a young sardine forced to cope with changes in her environment brought about by man-made and natural disasters.
Yen Blanco-Delgado, chair of the Department of Communication of ADZU and head of the Lana Sardinas Information Campaign project, said that the information drive was designed to get the public interested in the condition of the Sulu Celebes Sea and propel them to action to help protect it.
“A lot of people don’t realize just how valuable the Sulu-Celebes Sea is to our lives, not just economically but also socially and culturally. If the sardines disappear from the Sulu Celebes Sea, there’ll be no more canned sardines, no more bulad, and most drastically, no more jobs for over 30, 000 workers dependent on sardines for their livelihood.”
The puppet show and storybook has made the rounds of various high schools all over Zamboanga Peninsula. The animated video is available online.
For more information:
Yen Blanco Delgado
Ateneo de Zamboanga University
0917.722.2432 * 9910871 local 2290
Source: Jesuit University