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Declare your fish dynamite-free

This petition had 37,300 supporters

On September 30, 2015, authorities were informed that a corpse had been found, floating and bloodied, in the waves off Daanbantayan, Cebu in the Philippines. The man was 33-year-old Al Bernard Coyoca, a diving instructor and father of seven. He was also my son.

My son had gone on a bonding trip with his dad to a beautiful seaside town and was on an early-morning dive when dynamite used for fishing exploded and killed him. Words cannot express my grief. And I will never understand why he was taken from us this way.

Dynamite fishing is illegal in the Philippines and throughout the world. It was outlawed because of its extremely destructive effects on the ecosystem and the fishermen who are too often injured and killed when explosions go awry. Add to that the death of a completely innocent professional diver, who was just out to enjoy our nation’s underwater treasures. Too bad this area is also home to some of the most rampant illegal fishing in southeast Asia.

In 2012, the director of the Philippine Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources declared an “all-out war” on dynamite fishing and other illegal fishing practices, but it has left out a major branch of the supply chain that must be addressed.

Please join me in calling on the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to certify all public markets and grocery stores that are willing to declare their produce “dynamite-free.” If we don’t address this problem in the markets, we’re allowing this violence against the sea to persist. For love of my son, we cannot allow it to go on.

Al Bernard was a lover of the ocean. He talked of dive sites he’d visited where the coral was decimated, gray and lifeless because of illegal fishing practices. When we buried him, we promised to do everything we could to help eradicate dynamite fishing, for the good of all.

This issue extends to everybody on earth. The Philippines is the world’s second largest harvester and exporter of tuna and blue swimming crabs. We export $180 million in fish products annually to the EU market alone. The EU and the US have issued warnings to the Philippines in recent years, expressing concern about the lack of traceability and transparency in its fish sourcing, but still this activity continues.

If we also address markets and seafood suppliers, we stand a better chance of eradicating this problem once and for all. Our markets have no standard policies in place to ensure that their fish products are dynamite-free. And so, in honor of my kind and dedicated son, I dare all the biggest public and private markets in Cebu and Metro Manila to declare their fish dynamite-free. I also call on the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to certify those markets that do so.

Please, sign my petition and help bring some small amount of meaning to my beloved Al Bernard’s death.

Today: Lorna is counting on you

Lorna Coyoca needs your help with “Help us stop illegal dynamite fishing in the Philippines”. Join Lorna and 37,299 supporters today.