BFAR to implement total ban on ‘hulbot-hulbot’

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Saturday, February 18, 2012


ILOILO CITY—The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) eyes the total ban on the use of Danish seine or hulbot-hulbot as a fishing method by next month.

BFAR Director Asis Perez said the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) passed, on first reading, a resolution to ban that form of fishing, which involves throwing a large rock tied to a net into the sea and dragging it underwater.

Fishermen are already prohibited from employing the hulbot-hulbot method within municipal waters or 15 kilometers from the seashore because it destroys the coral reef.

But there is very little difference if the method is used only outside municipal waters, because marine resources like corals are also destroyed.

The NFARMC is expected to meet again in the third week of March to discuss the resolution.

Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. raised the proposal to three fellow governors to pass a resolution to ban the hulbot-hulbot method in the provinces of Cebu, Masbate, Negros Occidental and Iloilo.

Defensor made the announcement on Friday at the fourth governors’ meeting on Visayan Sea protection and coastal law enforcement held in Iloilo City.

However, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Masbate Gov. Rizalina Larente said the subject would need further discussion before a decision can be made.

Atty. Perez said a public hearing on the NFARMC resolution is still being conducted and most of the input is aimed at efforts to conserve fisheries through strict law enforcement.

He added that the agency’s ban on the harvest of sardines in Zamboanga Province is still in place and that 99.9 percent implementation has been achieved.

The ban will end on March 1, 2012, and the fishermen would see the result of giving the sea three months of rest and should expect bountiful harvests.

“Scientists say that for each kilogram of fish, there would be 27 kilograms that the fishermen can harvest after three months,” said Perez.

In a separate interview, environmental lawyer and Ramon Magsaysay laureate Antonio Oposa Jr. is optimistic that the ban on hulbot-hulbot is “a done deal.”

“In the first place, it is destructive,” said Oposa, who echoed the observation of Perez that allowing the method to be used outside municipal waters would still degrade the marine ecosystem.

He also said that in Cebu, the more common illegal fishing method is the zipper, wherein a fishing boat scrapes the bottom of the sea, destroying coral reefs and sea grasses that serve as habitat for fishes and other aquatic animals.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 19, 2012.

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