THE Regional Coast Watch Central has implemented a one month moratorium on the apprehension of small and medium-scale commercial fishing vessels within the jurisdiction of 12 local government units (LGU) in Cebu Province.
Starting Monday, July 15, 2019, fisherfolk in Toledo City and in the towns of San Remigio, Tabuelan, Asturias, Balamban, Pinamungajan, Aloguinsan, Barili, Dumanjug, Alegria and Badian will be allowed to conduct small and/or medium-scale fishing activities within 10.1 to 15 kilometers from their shoreline.
Provided, though, that they are duly registered and licensed to operate.
“We are giving some time to the LGUs to enact the appropriate ordinance because the process takes time. Actually, we won't stop enforcing (the law). We will just change our focus so instead of looking out for their presence within 10.1 to 15 kilometers from the LGU's shoreline, we will check if these fisherfolk have licenses and registration. We will just inform the LGUs if we find vessels within this area,” said Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Central Visayas Director Ronnie Gil Gavan.
The Regional Coast Watch Central works under the Office of the President. It is composed of the PCG, Naval Forces Central, Maritime Industry Authority, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, Department of Agriculture and the National Prosecution Service.
Gavan brought up the implementation of the moratorium in a meeting called by Governor Gwen Garcia with stakeholders, the Regional Coast Watch Central, lo
cal chief executives, Provincial Board members and Representative Pablo John Garcia (Cebu, third) Monday morning, July 15.
The governor called for a meeting to address concerns and to come up with a cohesive set of guidelines based on laws relative to the protection of the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS).
This includes Republic Act (RA) 11038 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992; RA 10654 or an Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing; RA 8850 or an Act Providing for the Development, Management and Conservation of the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources; and Presidential Proclamation 1234, among others.
Garcia, for her part, said a “very selective interpretation of the law” has caused a dilemma for fisherfolk that conduct fishing activities within municipal waters, especially in the 12 LGUs.
Small-scale commercial fishing refer to vessels with a gross tonnage of 3.1 to 20, while medium-scale commercial fishing refers to those with vessels weighing 20.1 to 150 gross tons.
“Klaro kaayo nga og mopasar og ordinansa ang (It was very clear that if an ordinance is passed by the) LGU, pwede nila ma-allow ang (they may allow) small-scale to medium-scale commercial fishing but only from 10.1 to 15 kilometers distance from shoreline and for as long that area is more than seven fathoms ang gilagmon (deep). But in the past, diritso og pandakop (they were immediately apprehended),” Garcia said.
The Tañon Strait is a body of water separating the provinces of Cebu, Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental.
As of 2010, 2.1 million people, some 26,950 of whom are fisherfolk, reside in the 42 LGUs located along the coast surrounding the Tañon Strait.
They rely on the Tañon Strait for food and livelihood since it is considered as a “major fishing ground.” (RTF)