Women Warriors of the Burgos Sanctuary
By Amelita Talotalo
The Burgos Birds and Fish Sanctuary in Surigao Del Sur brought to light the valuable contribution of women in the fishing industry through promoting active participation in the management of marine protected areas and a booming dried fish enterprise.
The Burgos Birds & Fish Sanctuary was managed by the KAAMPAKA (Kadagatan Ampingan Pagmata Katawhan), which is duly registered in the Department of Labor & Employment (DOLE). It was founded by only five fishermen in 1997 and has since increased in membership reaching 40 strong members today including women.
These women voluntarily guard the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) round-the-clock shelling out their own resources to buy gasoline for their pump boats in going to the MPA site and in patrolling around the area. While there were occasional encounters of armed illegal fishers, these women remain unfazed by hurdles motivated by how their contribution can benefit their own children.
In 2012, the Haribon Foundation through the DARWIN project, surveyed the abundance of the danggit fish in the area. After a series of feasibility studies, KAAMPAKA, with the assistance of Haribon commenced yet another income generating activity for the community of Burgos. Members of KAAMPAKA underwent capacity building and organizational strengthening. Women members, on the other hand, were given the special fort to manage the enterprise.
The KAAMPAKA Dried Fish Processing Project was operationalized in 2014. In a regular day, with at least 20 kilos of fresh danggit, five women members receive 150 pesos daily subsidy. Another two women gained 75 pesos for a half-day packaging of processed dried fish. Women members tasked to market the products earn 150 pesos a day. A tenth of the share from the total net income is allocated for MPA management expenses.
Today, women members of KAAMPAKA are showing gratitude for the additional income they earn from the danggit project. They can now set aside some extra to buy basic family needs like soap, salt, sugar, and coffee. They also noted how the income helped with their children’s educational needs such as their school supplies and daily allowance.
The women members also remarked that the project has helped them eliminate their dependency on their husband’s daily wages as they are now able to contribute to the family’s financial resources. Interestingly, domestic violence was reportedly reduced after the project started.
Haribon Foundation has been working with communities in Surigao to help sustain marine management initiatives in marine protected areas (MPA) and marine protected area networks (MPAN) in the province. Read relevant story: "Haribon promotes marine management."
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Department of Trade and Industry, the local government of Cortes and The Foundation for a Sustainable Society, Inc. also supported the Dried Fish Processing Project of KAAMPAKA.