‘Fisherfolks should risk life to guard sea’-A A +A
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
WHILE it continues to support the Bantay Dagat, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) no longer encourages volunteers for the program, which allows civilians to help the government enforce fisheries and marine protection laws in municipal waters.
BFAR Director Asis Perez told media practitioners attending the Visayas-wide Environmental Media Conference yesterday in Iloilo City that the fisheries bureau intends to gradually phase out the Bantay Dagat program.
He said the Bantay Dagat volunteers were tasked to fill the lack of law enforcers, but BFAR has started to improve its capabilities.
BFAR will have 27 new multi-mission vessels, including patrol boats, this year to strengthen its law enforcement program.
The PNP and the Maritime Police also help BFAR enforce fisheries and marine environment protection laws.
Perez said law enforcement, monitoring and regulation should be the sole responsibility of the government.
“Bantay Dagat volunteers are fisherfolk whose main responsibility is to protect and feed their family,” he said.
He pointed out that the gradual phaseout of the Bantay Dagat will also spare volunteer-fishermen the risks they face during confrontations with possibly armed illegal fishermen. He said the volunteers also do not get salaries.
Perez was one of the speakers in the Visayas-wide Environmental Media Conference held on board the mv DA-BFAR, a research vessel that was docked at the Port San Pedro in
The conference was sponsored by the BFAR and Tanggol Kalikasan, the defense arm of environmental advocacy group Haribon Foundation.
During the conference, media practitioners from the three regions in the Visayas—Eastern, Western and Central Visayas—identified illegal fishing; overfishing; encroachment in protected areas; hunting and trading of wildlife; unregulated tourism; destruction of coral reefs and mangroves; reclamation; illegal quarrying and mining; and illegal logging and deforestation among the environmental issues that beset their areas.
The conference aimed to lay out areas for cooperation between the media and BFAR to raise public awareness on the importance of coastal and marine resource conservation.
Participating journalists said that for media to fulfill its role, concerned government agencies and nongovernment organizations should make available relevant and timely data; appoint a knowledgeable information officer; and provide regular updates and hold dialogs about environmental issues.
BFAR officials acknowledged the vital role that media play in raising public awareness on fisheries-related issues and regulations.
Perez stressed, though, that while BFAR seeks the cooperation of media, “we are not asking you to defend BFAR.”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 08, 2013.