Commercial fishing back in CDO waters-A A +A
Saturday, September 28, 2013
SMALL fishermen in Barangay Bonbon criticized the Philippine Maritime police in Northern Mindanao region for failing to halt commercial fishing in the municipal waters leading to scarcity among their ranks.
A dialogue between the commercial fishermen, small fishermen, and various government agencies like the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Philippine Maritime Police, etc. was held first week of September.
The dialogue was intended to heed the plea of small fishermen that commercial fishing vessels should abide R.A. 8550, also known as “The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.”
But on September 23, members of Bonbon Active Fisherman Organization (Bafo) noticed that commercial fishing vessels are back in the municipal waters and have become greedier.
Back in municipal waters
Merlyn Magsalay, barangay councilor of Bonbon, said “last night (Thursday) the commercial fishing vessels were so close to the shoreline.”
“Kung labayon nimo og bato maabot na (They [commercial fishing vessels] were stones away).”
She added that the commercial fishing boats were back in the municipal waters since Monday and they could not do something about it because they do not have the capacity to fend them off fishing in municipal waters.
“We saw the commercial fishing vessel named Junrose, Kong-kong, Niko and Digs last night,” said Elmer Sambaan, a small fisherman in Bonbon.
Sambaan added there are more commercial fishing vessels that they could not identify because the lights were out.
Worse comes to worst
The president of Bafo Nerio Pactolerin told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro the situation has gone worst.
Pactolerin said the crew of the commercial fishing vessels are driving them away from the municipal waters in which where they should be fishing according to the fisheries code.
“Giputol sa taga-commercial fishing ang pukot sa among kauban (The net of our co-fisherman was cut off by one of the crews of the commercial fishing vessel),” said Pactolerin after their co-fisherman refused to leave the area.
Wilfredo Ladao and Emmanuel Pactolerin were the two small fishermen who were driven away by the commercial fishing crew Thursday night.
Magsalay said their situation is hapless and she pities the other small fishermen in Bonbon.
“Pila napud kabulan wala mi pang-sustento ani (For months we won’t have anything for sustenance),” said Magsalay.
“Wala mi ikasukol, kung naa pami armas hurot gyud na sila diha ba (We have nothing to fight them off, if we have guns we could have shot them all),” said Nerio.
Sambaan said if one of the small fishermen in Bonbon will be wounded they will fight to the death if that is what the commercial fishing operators want.
Nerio added they are not thinking about asking help from the government anymore because they have done it already and it yields no results.
“Dili namo trabaho ang mangabog (It is not our job to drive the commercial fishing vessels off),” said Magsalay.
She added the seaborne patrols should be the one keeping the municipal waters free from commercial fishing vessels.
“The maritime police are inutile,” she said. “They are not doing their job.”
Useless patrol vessel
Sambaan said the maritime police have a useless patrol vessel in Macabalan, Cagayan de Oro City.
Magsalay added they are tired of sending reports to the people in-charge but nothing significant happens to their requests that the commercial vessels should stop fishing in the waters that is supposedly for the small fishermen.
“They are asking that the small fishermen should make reports without even considering that these fishermen did not go to school,” said Magsalay.
“How are they supposed to make reports?” she asked.
“The seaborne patrol will call the commercial fishing vessels if they will patrol the municipal waters,” said a fisherman from Bonbon who asked not to be named.
The fisherman added that if the maritime police caught a commercial fishing vessel, they will bribe them with foams of fishes and money to set them free.
Nerio said one of the fishermen from Bonbon saw how the commercial fishing vessels bribed the Maritime police with seven foams of fish.
This reporter tried to call the regional maritime office four times through their number 856-54-85 but nobody answered.
The reporter tried to reach the officer-in-charge of the regional maritime office through the contact details that are posted in the Maritime group’s website (http://mg.pnp.gov.ph) but failed to get their side of the story.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 28, 2013.