Jesus Condeza holds on to a large squid he speared inside his fish corral before transferring to a carrying net in the coastal waters of Del Carmen town in the southern Philippines. (Photo by Erwin Mascariñas)

Dec 9 2021

Jesus Condeza has always been an illegal fisher and an illegal logger of mangroves in the southern Philippine town of Del Carmen in the province of Surigao del Norte.

From 1990 to 2014, Condeza used dynamite and cyanide to fish and even supplied materials for the illegal activity to other fishermen.

“Back then, I was involved in dynamite fishing and cyanide,” he confessed. “I also used to sell live fish for export abroad and also cut down mangroves to be sold as firewood.”

“I did all forms of illegal marine activities because the money was easy,” said the 49-year-old fisherman.

He only had a “change of heart” when he took part in a “community intervention” program by the non-government group Sentro para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Agham at Teknolohiya Inc. or SIKAT.

The group aimed to enhance coastal community resiliency by implementing community-based Coastal Resource Management and Disaster Risk Reduction Programs.

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