Stories of Change 6: Continuing Coastal Resource Protection and Management Efforts:
FROM DYNAMITE USERS TO SUSTAINABLE FISHERS
I am Francisco “Intoy” Soriano, 59 years old and had been married for 31 years to Emilinda “Minda” Soriano, 48 years old. I have four children, three girls and one boy. My two girls are married and live separately from us. The other two, a boy, aged 16 & 4th year HS student and a girl 6 years old a Day care pupil, are with us.
From the 80’s and midst of 2006, our sources of livelihood were fishing and farming. But I used dynamite & cyanide to fish. During those years, there is already Presidential Decree 704 that prohibited illegal fishing activities within the Municipal waters. But since these methods are the easiest way to catch fish, I used them. In my point of view, in dynamite fishing, much lesser expenses but higher income is better.
My wife participated in dynamite and cyanide fishing activities. She would put 2-3 bottles of dynamite under her skirt while traveling to the sea for fear that we would be caught. While I went on fishing, my wife stayed on the coast line as I look out for some signs of the authority (PNP) monitoring or scouting the area. Both of us had understanding as to what signs should be used if in case there were apprehending team. Every time there is a school of fish, we were both happy dahil “ PALDO” na naman kami” (because we hit jackpot). Imagine in 1 kilo of dynamite amounting to fifty pesos, I can catch several sacks of fishes. Even my wife is also happy every time she sees “gipaw” or school of fish in English.
Sometime in the 1990’s, I forgot the exact year, I experienced that I was almost hit by the dynamite which I just lighted. I looked behind me and throw the dynamite which immediately exploded. I was scared then. My wife also felt scared for me. After that incidence, my wife talked to me. She wanted me to stop doing these illegal activities. I am not convinced. I told her that there is no source of income that is easy. Even in farming, earning Php 500 in a few minutes is hard.
Another death threatening incident happened. We did not notice that a fire already reached the place where we hid the dynamite. If I was not able to stop the fire, all my children and our house will be gone. For the second time, my wife asked me to stop illegal activities. But I then insisted that this is not possible because we will have no food to eat. The right thing to do is to bury it to make us safe.
I know that this is life-threatening work. But I don’t have any choice but to engage in it to sustain my family needs and my obligations as family provider.
In 2006, CERD conducted community meetings, interviews and trainings related to Community Based Coastal Resource Management (CBCRM). I attended all the trainings, seminars, orientations on RA 8550 & Municipal Fishery Ordinance (MFO) and FGD’s conducted by CERD. I realized the negative effects of the dynamite and cyanide fishing. I understood the need to protect the municipal waters and the coastal resources and using sustainable fishing methods. From this point of view, I shared my reflection to my wife and asked her to work together and adjust ourselves to change our fishing practices.
It was a very critical decision to stop because I do not know how I will feed my family. But because of my courage to discontinue this activity, I tried different livelihood activities such as farming, construction worker and near shore fishing.
Other methods of fishing that I tried are fish pot and crab lift net. These types of fishing methods were also used to in catching lobster. I put the said fishing gears to the sea for about overnight and went back to check the catch on the next day. The highest income that I earned was between P 150.00 pesos to P200.00 pesos a day. The lowest income is 100.00 pesos a day. I go on fishing for about two to three days a week during bad weather and heavy rains and every day during good weather condition. At times when a neighbor needs a farm worker, I worked as a laborer in which I earned 150.00 a day.
At present our family income ranges from P 4,500.00 to P 6,000.00. Although small compared from the income from dynamite, I am happy because I earned this without my heartbeat beating very fast. My children will also be proud of me.
As of now I am active in participating in the organization’s activities and protection of the marine environment.
Our family vision:
“We want our family to be united, happy and free from any illness. We also dream that our organization remains consolidated and continue its sustained protection of municipal waters and coastal resources against illegal fishers”