Written by: Cedrick Calalang
“When I first started fishing, it didn’t matter to me at all. The only thing that mattered to me was to catch more fish,” Sonny Badal, a former poacher, wasn’t reluctant in the effects that he caused only by the results that it yielded, that was the daily cycle of his life as a fisherman. He was one of the best fishermen in his area of Lobo, Batangas, an area that houses hundreds of corals and a whale migrating spot. He caught more fish than any other fisherman out there, even if it meant catching too much than the sea could produce and using the coral’s natural structure to help him catch more fish. Years passed, and he suddenly realized the effects of what he did, “I didn’t have any idea what would be the outcome of my wrongdoings. A lot of corals had been damaged because of what I did,” there were less fish to be caught, but he still needed to profit.
Though, everything changed once he visited a marine sanctuary. In the sanctuary, protected fish species then began to swim all around him, that experience was his turning point, realizing that he needed to do something better. Immediately after his experience he opted to share it with his neighbors, giving them the idea to appoint him as their chairman for their barangay’s commission on fisheries.
It’s quite hard to continue to protect or defend the environment especially if you are underfunded, but men like Sonny Badal tirelessly fight for its protection. Moreover, it’s hard for Badal and his men to balance the protection of the sea and the continuing overfishing in the area as many of his neighbors rely on the sea to make their living. This is just one of the many struggles that he encounters but still wholeheartedly continues to serve and protect the sea.
Although the Verde Island Passage is currently threatened by the over-development of large-scale resorts, the continuing consequence of global warming, and the increasing number of armed poachers, Sonny Badal is still hopeful of the future for the part of the sea under his care, promising that under his watch he will continue to make sure that the passage thrives. He is proud to say this about the work he does “It is very fulfilling on my part and a huge achievement.” It is really a huge achievement!
This action agrees with Sustainable Development Goals defined by UN.
14. life below water
“Batangay Dagat” helps reduce the consistent number of illegal chemical fishing practices in the area.
Also, the organization helps promote the maintenance of the aquatic ecosystem by educating fishermen in the proper fishing practice and guide them on how to efficiently fish without detrimentally affecting the coral reefs.
They also serve as the guardians of numerous endemic fishes in the area by conserving and protecting the areas where they gather and helping other Marine NGOs to find their nesting grounds.