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Duterte to award P60M to cleanest coastal areas

President Duterte is set to award over P60 million in livelihood support funds to the cleanest coastal communities in the country this month as the government’s campaign to stop illegal fishing and other destructive fishing practices kicks into high gear.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the selection of the cleanest coastal communities, dubbed as “Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan” annual Presidential Awards, is a project of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

MMK, the official said, aims to promote sustainable and responsible fishing in the face of continued illegal fishing activities resulting to dwindling catch by marginal fisher folk.

He added that coastal towns must meet the five criteria set by the national selection committee of the MMK in order to qualify.

Piñol said the criteria is:

– The coastal town must have no reported cases of illegal fishing.

– The town must have a declared and protected marine sanctuary.

– There must be a well-managed and protected mangrove area.

– The town must have a self-imposed closed fishing season which would coincide with the spawning season of the fish species found in its fishing rounds.

– The coastal waters and fishing grounds must be free of floating garbage and effluence flowing from factories or processing plants.

“Regional winners who will receive P2 million each have been selected while the five finalists will be announced during the awards ceremonies expected to be held in Malacañang,” said Piñol.

P20 million will be given to the MMK Presidential Awardee, while the first runner up will receive P8 million and the second runner up will get P5 million.

Piñol stressed that the prizes to be given to the winning towns “could only be utilized for livelihood programs for fisher folks especially during the closed season for fishing, speed boats for the Bantay Laut members, and activities aimed at stopping illegal fishing.”

Undersecretary Eduardo Gongona, BFAR national director, said the winning towns will also be supported by the bureau with fiberglass fishing boats, fish landing, and ice making facilities.

2016 MMK winners will no longer be qualified to compete in the future search for cleanest coastal communities under the program.

Piñol said the exact date of the MMK Awards will be announced as soon as Malacañang confirms the availability of Duterte in view of his very tight schedules. (Elena L. Aben)

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