FIVE men from Negros Occidental were arrested for allegedly fishing in the restricted waters of San Remigio, northern Cebu last Saturday afternoon.

Police identified the fishermen as Erwin Rekeyo Sirra, 30; Juan Oquiño Bermejo, 28; Mark Pantereza Lebozada, 21; William Casis Canillo, 32; and Ronel Sobayco Taibuines, 20.

This, as three groups urge voters to elect candidates who are concerned about the environment.

Lawyer Liza Rose Osorio of the Philippine Earth Justice Center, lawyer Gloria “Golly” Estenzo Ramos of Oceana Philippines, and lawyer Mary Joan Dulhao of Sea Knights said protecting the environment is considered basic service under the law.

This is to ensure a good life for the future generations.

They said that in local governance, 80 percent of basic services is allocated for personal services and job orders, while the other 20 percent is for environment.

A team composed of police and Bantay Dagat operatives caught the suspects on board a commercial fishing boat.

The suspects were arrested after they failed to show any permit issued by San Remigio Municipal Government. They were from Victorias City, Negros Occidental.

Five boxes containing fish and 39 empty boxes were seized from their possession.

The team led by PO1 Jade Andales Carabuena also caught them using a fine mesh net, violating Republic Act (RA) 8550, or the Fisheries Code of the Philippines.

Last Wednesday night, five fishermen from Victorias City were also caught off San Remigio.

The suspects were identified as Ricky Pisano Algarme, 41; Rolando Bermeo, 33; Rolando Clojas Canello, 43; Rolly Villanueva, 33; and Gaspar Gemenez Villaflor, 21.

They also failed to show a permit and they allegedly used a fine mesh net.

RA 8550 prohibits “fishing in municipal waters and in all bays, as well as other fishery management areas, using active fishing gear.”

Fines

Active fishing gear are “devices characterized by gear movements or pursuit of the target species by towing, lifting, and pushing the gears, surrounding, covering, dredging, pumping and scaring the target species to impoundments.”

The law’s Section 89 states “fine-mesh users are subject to fines of P2,000 to P20,000 or imprisonment of from six months to two years.”

The problem now is the reclamation projects that destroyed the eco-system, and the illegal fishing that deprived marginal fisherfolks of their means of livelihood.

Worse, they said some local officials are tolerating illegal fishing by stopping it based on their mandate.

The three groups also celebrated the decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bogo City in favor of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in banning Danish Seine fishing, which is destructive to fishing grounds.