The College of Fisheries-Central Luzon State University (CF-CLSU) affirms commitment to West Philippine Sea (WPS) Initiative at the 4th International Conference for the West Philippine Sea held at Costa Palawan Resort, Puerto Princesa City on August 24- 25, 2023. Experts and stakeholders have united to tackle challenges facing the WPS.

The conference theme is "Nurturing People and Environment, Strengthening Governance for a Better West Philippine Sea" with a facilitated discussion on environmental preservation and sustainable practices. Notable attendees, including government officials, researchers, academe and community representatives, devised strategies on responsible marine resource use while preserving the ecosystem’s delicate balance. Dr. Lorenz J. Fajardo, Acting Dean of the College of Fisheries, and Asst. Prof. Junard A. Catabay, CF faculty member and focal person of Illegal Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF), represented CLSU during the research and development agenda meeting on the WPS.

A key highlight was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ Regions 1 and 3, regional academic institutions, and civil society organizations. The agreement emphasizes collaborative efforts on sustainable fisheries, applying the ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management and reducing threats to fisheries and marine biodiversity including IUUF in Fisheries Management Area 6 (FMA6) which is part of the WPS. Cooperation on the use of the Philippine IUU Fishing Index and Threat Assessment Tool (I-FIT) and research agenda in Regions 1 and 3 are the main deliverables of the MOU signing.

The MOU also enumerate the joint activities that each party can progress to such as IUUF assessment, reduction planning and monitoring using the I-FIT Tool; consolidation and report writing covering local government units (LGUs) in Regions 1 and 3 or other LGUs; research including S&T models in support of sustainable fisheries and threat reduction; and other activities as may be identified in the future. Also, on August 23, prior to the Conference for the WPS, Dr. Fajardo and Asst. Prof. Catabay attended the opening and ribbon cutting of the “Kalayaan: Handog sa Kalikasan” exhibit at the SM City Puerto Princesa.

The exhibit is a partnership of The Fish Right program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), and Kalayaan municipal government which aims to showcase the information featuring standees of photos and graphics explaining the marine biodiversity, local culture and livelihood, and other eco-tourism efforts undertaken by the PCSD and the USAID Fish Right program in the municipality. CF-CLSU's role emphasizes dedication to sustainable marine practices, aiding ecological integrity and socio-economic growth in the WPS region.