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Southeast Asia • Philippines

Plastic waste instead of fish, exploitation instead of income

The coastal communities of the Philippine province of Sarangani depend heavily on fishing. But commercial fishing fleets empty fish stocks and fishermen lose their livelihoods. If they are hired for industrial fishing, they often fall victim to exploitation and human trafficking.

The boat, with which Norbhen Costańo goes out, is rented. One day's catch is barely enough to feed his family. (Photo: Mark Henry/AWO International)The boat, with which Norbhen Costańo goes out, is rented. One day's catch is barely enough to feed his family. (Photo: Mark Henry/AWO International)

With depleting fish stocks in the Philippines, the income of fishermen and their families continues to shrink. The Bay of Sarangani in the south of the Philippines is particularly affected. Here, fishermen in small traditional wooden boats (Bangkas) compete with large commercial industrial ships. The commercial overfishing in coastal waters massively reduces the catch for small fishermen.

Instead of catching fish, they catch plastic waste, as there is no waste management in the marginalized coastal communities. The worldwide littering of the oceans is clearly visible here. From the small daily catch the fishers still need to deduct the rent for the Bangka - very few can afford their own boat. So fishing is barely enough to feed their families. If small fishermen give up and look for work on one of the commercial ships, they are often exploited. Due to their limited income, jobseekers in the fishing industry are increasingly the victims of fraud by illegal recruiters and human trafficking.

Protecting fishermen and tackling marine pollution

In our joint project with the organization OND HESED Foundation we fight against trafficking of fishermen in the province of Sarangani. Our partner organisation develops and strengthens self-help groups for the social protection of fishing families, especially mothers and wives, and their communities. OND HESED complements existing government social services to provide victims of human trafficking with the necessary support. In this way, we not only reduce the risk of fishermen getting caught in human trafficking, but also the risk of renewed labour migration of victims. OND Hesed is also committed to improving working conditions in the fishing industry.

Pollution of the bay is another problem for local fishermen. Additional measures are therefore being implemented as part of the project to improve environmental awareness and protection in the project region. For example, public workshops and training sessions on waste management, waste water and hygiene are held. The project also includes the reforestation of mangroves in Sarangani, as the mangrove forests were extensively cleared in the last century for agriculture, fishing and housing. But now the many advantages of coastal trees are well known: They protect coastal communities from flooding by breaking waves and wind, preventing soil erosion and providing food for marine organisms through falling litter. Planting mangroves promotes fish stocks and thus has direct financial benefits for coastal residents, who in Sarangani are almost exclusively dependent on fishing.

OND HESED Foundation was established in 1999 by members of the Oblates of Notre Dame (OND), an independent Catholic order, to implement development projects for marginalized populations of all religions. The organisation is active on the island of Mindanao in the south of the Philippines and, like AWO International, focuses on strengthening social structures. To date, OND HESED has founded, supported and strengthened 19 Peoples Organizations and 243 self-help groups with a membership of around 3,000.

Die Verschmutzung der Bucht ist ein weiteres Problem für die lokalen Fischer. Im Rahmen des Projekts werden deshalb zusätzlich Maßnahmen durchgeführt, um das Umweltbewusstsein und -schutz in der Projektregion verbessern.  Dazu werden zum Beispiel öffentliche Workshops und Trainings zu den Themen Abfallmanagement, Abwasser und Hygiene durchgeführt. Zudem beinhaltet das Projekt die Wiederaufforstung von Mangroven in Sarangani, denn die Mangrovenwälder wurden im letzten Jahrhundert großflächig für Landwirtschaft, Fischerei und Wohnraum beseitigt. Doch inzwischen sind die vielen Vorteile der Küstenbäume bekannt: Sie schützen Küstengemeinden vor Fluten, indem sie Wellen und Wind brechen, verhindern Bodenerosion und bieten durch herabfallenden Waldstreu Nahrung für marine Organismen. Das Pflanzen von Mangroven fördert den Fischbestand und hat so direkte finanzielle Vorteile für die Küstenanwohner, die in Sarangani fast ausschließlich auf Fischerei angewiesen sind.

Die OND HESED Foundation wurde 1999 durch Mitglieder des katholischen Ordens Oblates of Notre Dame (OND) gegründet, um als eigenständige Einrichtung Entwicklungsprojekte für marginalisierte Bevölkerungsgruppen jeglicher Religionszugehörigkeit zu implementieren. Die Organisation ist auf der Insel Mindanao im Süden der Philippinen tätig und setzt wie AWO International auf die Stärkung von Sozialstrukturen. Bis heute hat OND HESED 19 Peoples Organizations und 243 Selbsthilfegruppen mit einer Mitgliederzahl von rund 3.000 Personen gegründet, betreut und gestärkt.

Project information

ProjectPlastic waste instead of fish, exploitation instead of income
Place/RegionGeneral Santos City and municipalities of Kiamba and Maasim in the province of Sarangani, Philippines
PartnerOND HESED Foundation
Target group

Small fishermen and their families, communities

Activities
  • Implementation of laws and guidelines against human trafficking
  • Legal education in fishing communities
  • Assistance to victims of human trafficking
  • Development and strengthening of self-help groups and community organisations
  • Education in the field of waste management and environmental protection
Duration2018-2020
Budget61.900 Euro p.a.
SponsorBMZ

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