BOUNTIFUL catch of tamban (sardines) fish was again noted on Friday, June 19, with the price steadily going to P20 per kilo off the landing area. But small-time fishermen of Cagayan de Oro were obviously not happy.
"Sayang ang kahago daghan kuha pero barat kaayo ang presyo. Sa binulto, lisod ibaligya kay over supply, mapugos na lang og suroy (The effort will just go to waste as the catch is abundant but the price is so low. Even wholesale selling is now difficult because of oversupply, some of us have no choice but to peddle it on street sales)," rued boat operator Antit Velez one morning at the shore of Barangay Bonbon.
The 47-year-old Velez, who built and customized his own boat, said when overstock hit the market, they will be forced to sell each foam loaded with 40 up to 44 kilos of tamban for a measly P400 or P500 to regular buyers waiting early in the morning with their 4-wheel vehicles.
"Looy ang walay sapad kay hago na bilar sa panagat mao pa gyod mangunay pagsuroy sa kuha nga ibaligya sa barato nga retail price para di magamo (It's a pity for those who have no direct contact buyers, they're sleepless in the sea at night and they would end up sometimes selling on their own at cheaper retail price than have their catch just be rotten)," Velez told SunStar Cagayan de Oro.
Just imagine, Velez said an ordinary "mananagat" has to spend P60 for a bucket of ice, P30 for korudo (gasoline) and P20 for "hakot" (labor) in every foam of tamban fish.
"Unya kuwatro (P400) o singko (P500) ra ang daug, dili mabayran ang kahago sa lawod (But each foam would only sell P400 to P500. It's not worth the effort with all the dirty works and corresponding risk at sea)," he said.
"Ang pa-it kon mabuslot pa gyod ang foam pag-alsa kay mahal P350 baya kada usa (Worse if the foams will incur damage during the lifting as we buy it at P350 each)," added his assistant Moman Abogatal, 31, while clearing the net of the fishing mess after another hard-fought battle in the middle of the sea.
Both Velez and Abogatal blamed the domineering presence of "sensoro" and "tapay-tapay" (big commercial fishing vessels) to the small fishing trade's predicament.
"Laras dinagko ilang kuha maong nibarato pag-ayo ang tamban. Looy ang gagmay'ng mananagat (Their sweeping domination in fish harvest at big volume made the price so cheap and we're the ones who suffered the most from it)."
Velez could only wonder why the so-called big players could still fish in "higad" or within the parameters of the municipal waters when their boats are supposedly intended for deep-sea fishing far from tamban territory of small-scale fish hunters along the city's Macajalar bay.
"We've heard that big operators, especially those from Opol and Jasaan towns in Misamis Oriental, have gotten their permits from their respective mayors, that's why they can't be punished even if they have a violation. It's unfair because any simple violation from us dali ra kaayo maguyod among barato (our boats can be easily intercepted by the maritime enforcers). Oo pinaka-lowest nga penalty is at P500 pero ang kalangan sa panginabuhi ayha mabalik ang baroto human sa processing mga papel diha pud ang pag-antos (While the penalty is only P500 for the lowest offense, the tedious processing of papers would kill us it would hamper our daily undertakings)," Velez said in vernacular.
With their fine oval-wide nets, Velez said the sensoros have the greater advantage to catch volume of small fishes like tamban of the herring fish family.
"Kon gagmay trese (13) ang mata sa among pukot, mas gagmay ang ila kay naay disesyete (17) nga ilang i-areya. Klaro nga violation pero gakatingala 'mi nganong walay dakop (If our nets have the 13 size in hole, the sensoros have the smaller holes at 17. It's a clear violation yet there was no arrest)."
Until today, Velez said he could not understand why BFAR would limit them to 11 and 10 size of eye nets so as to spare the still growing small tamban fish, but allow the commercial boats to go with the more damaging 17.
"Kutsara lang kining amo ang ila peloder (Ours were literally just a spoonful to their truckloads)," he said.
Velez agreed that fishing through "ambak pare" or "manapawan-style," which is the practice of inserting small nets to the big ones, is easy and more productive.
"Pero dili kita ma proud nagtan-aw ang Ginoo matawag nga ang kuha dili atong isda. Dili sab ma-ihap ang kasaba naa pay maka-angol nga mga bato nga ilang ilabay sa mga mananapaw (But we can't be proud because it's not through God's blessings and can't claim the catch as our own. We can't also bear the repeated verbal abuse and the stone throwing from the crew of sensoro operators)."
However, Velez said that many of them will be tempted to take advantage of the situation.
"Gwapa man gud ilang kuha kay ihamboy ra nila ilang luag kaayo nga net ma-trap gyod ang mga isda nga ma-attract sab sa ilang lighting device sa ilalom (And that's because a sensoro's catch is shiny and presentable. It has a fine net to be laid smoothly underneath to trap school of fishes with lighting and tracking device)."
But "apong," "ale" or the act of independent fishing is still the best natural way of enjoying God's graces through "yamang dapat" (natural sea resources) for Antit, Moman and some other good-hearted fisherfolk who try to persevere against poverty amid the threat of the global scourge coronavirus.
Their only appeal for the government is to protect them and let the big fishing boats go for the big hunt out of their usual territory.
"Tamban season abunda sa kuha pero gamay ra gyod ang mapaingon sa amo. Lisod padayonan among pagduda nga adunay bribery nga gakahitabo. Pero basta naa pay manapawan nagpasabot nga naa pay dagkong pangisdaan nga nag-operate sa higad nga bahin sa atong dagat sama duol sa Agutayan island (It's tamban season again where the catch is abundant though only a penny would come our way. And it's hard to think and doubt that there's bribery going on. But until there's a manapawan fishing that's happening is a clear indication that sensoros are still fishing in higad or seawaters not far from the municipal shores of Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental province like from near Agutayan island)," he said.