ENVIRONMENTALISTS will have more reasons to celebrate Ocean Month, after winning the case filed by operators of commercial fishing before the City of Bogo Regional Trial Court (RTC) against the ban imposed on them by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice president of Oceana, and lawyers Dante Ramos and Liza Osorio of the Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC) said that the decision of RTC Branch 61 Presiding Judge Antonio Marigomen in favor of the government and intervenor PEJC is timely because June is Ocean Month.

Marigomen dismissed the case filed by Northern Cebu Danish Seine Operators and Fisherfolks Association Inc. for lack of merit and declared Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) 246 banning Danish Seine as valid.

The association represented by Pablito Olivar and Nilo Soriba filed a case for declaratory relief with preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order against FAO 246. They include as respondents Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Proceso Alcala, BFAR Director Asis Perez, Chairman Salvador Salacup of the National Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (NFARMC) and Office of the Solicitor General (SolGen).

License

The complainants said Danish Seine originated from Denmark and introduced in the country by the Philippine Government, and BFAR issued them a gear license.

The PEJC represented by Ramos, Osorio and lawyer Mary Joan Dulhao acted as intervenor.

The complainants said that FAO 246 banning Danish Seine fishing method effective April 16, 2014 would lose substantially their business, investments and livelihood, and would dislocate and deprive their workers’ means of support.

But the respondents said that the issuance of FAO 246 is pursuant to Section 92 of Republic Act 8550 (Fisheries Code). The law states that it shall be unlawful for any person, natural or juridical, to fish with gear method that destroys coral reefs, seagrass beds and other fishery marine life habitat as may be determined by DA.

However, the court stated that another order, FAO 222 (Series of 2003) has long banned the Modified Danish Seine fishing, thus, petitioners cannot claim that their right to use the same is being curtailed by FAO 246.

“A license permit is a special privilege, a permission or authority to do what is within its terms. It is always revocable in line with government’s effort to protect the marine environment and the sustainability of our marine resources is in great peril,” the court said.

“Our oceans are protected. Kudos to BFAR for championing the conservation of our marine resources and ecosystems. PEJC, which intervened in behalf of the people and the fisherfolks, SolGen and all (those) who supported the ban to protect our seas,” Ramos said.

“We salute the court for adhering to science, the law and availed of the precautionary principle,” she added.