Folks urge gov’t to halt commercial fishing-A A +A
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
FEARING that one day commercial fishing would totally displace the lowly fishermen in the city, the Federation of Coastal Barangay Fisherfolk Association of Cagayan de Oro City, Inc. demanded on Wednesday the halt of commercial fishing as it has been affecting their livelihood.
“Our fishermen will have no food on their tables if commercial fishing boats enter the municipal waters,” said Merlyn Magsalay, a barangay kagawad of Bonbon.
She said lowly fishers have resorted to selling their appliances for sustenance when their catch is low because of the presence of commercial fishing.
Zalde Sison, a resident of barangay Macabalan and a fisherman for 30 years, said commercial fishing boats can harvest tons of fish leaving the local fisherfolk with almost nothing.
“Our catch is so meager that we can barely earn a hundred pesos every time (these) commercial fishing boats enter the municipal waters,” Sison said.
According to the website oneocean.org, commercial fishing in municipal waters is one of the primary culprits that continue to degrade coastal resources in the country.
Commercial fishing in commercial waters is also a violation of Republic Act (RA) 8550 or also known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.
The code clearly states that commercial fishing is prohibited in municipal waters (15-kilometer expanse of waters from the shoreline).
Meanwhile, the lowly fisherfolk suspected that commercial fishers have connections with the maritime authorities as they have not witnessed a single commercial fishing vessel seized despite the violation of the fishing law.
“Murag naay mga connection diha sa sulod. Matingala mi nganong makabalo sila nga mag seaborne patrol (It seems that commercial fishers have connections inside. We have been wondering why during the seaborne patrols you cannot see a single commercial fishing vessel in the municipal waters),” Magsalay said.
Magsalay also said the Philippine Maritime Police cannot blame them for suspecting because that is what they have observed.
“In spite of the lack of personnel, we can still manage the law enforcement operations (and enforce) the RA 8550,” Philippine Maritime Police-Northen Mindanao chief Cupid Calicaef told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Wednesday.
Calica added there should be enough law enforcement not only by the police but also by the local government units (LGUs).
For his part, Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno acknowledged that the problem originated from the inefficient law enforcement by the LGUs.
He said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has promised they will be active in addressing the concerns of fisherfolk beginning next year as their budget have been doubled to implement more programs for them.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 12, 2013.