Monitoring intensifies in Lapu seas

Contributed photo
Contributed photo

THE Lapu-Lapu City Government plans to set up enhanced, robust monitoring and surveillance systems along the coastal waters of the city to deter illegal fishing, including the use of dynamite, and similar activities.

This was the response of Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan to SunStar Cebu’s inquiries on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, after the reported incident of dynamite fishing in Magellan Bay, particularly at Punta West.

An official of the the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Central Visayas (BFAR 7) has warned that if dynamite fishing continues unchecked, it will affect the livelihood of fisherfolk.

On Tuesday, May 30, a concerned citizen posted on social media on Tuesday, May 30, a photo of over a dozen lifeless fish (believed to be sardines) at the seafloor. They were believed to be killed by blast fishing.

“I strongly condemn the reprehensible practice of dynamite fishing and will take necessary measures to prosecute individuals involved in illegal fishing practices,” Chan said.

Blast Fishing

Jeffrey Lim, the concerned citizen who uploaded the photo, told SunStar Cebu via Facebook Messenger on Wednesday that the incident was taken last Sunday afternoon, May 28.

Lim said that he and his group were going to his favorite diving spot when he noticed more or less 10 fishermen in their small pump boats fishing in the area.

“Apparently someone was using blast fishing on a school of sardines and many of the stunned or dead fish fell to the bottom in the deeper area which was out of reach of the diving fishermen,” Lim said in his post on May 30.


Chan said there is a need to preserve marine resources in their coastal waters as they play a vital role in the city’s tourism sector.

“The use of explosives in fishing not only leads to the indiscriminate killing of fish but also inflicts significant harm on coral reefs and other crucial marine habitats,” Chan said.

For his part, Lim said the presence of sardines in the Magellan Bay can be developed similarly to the sardine runs in the town of Moalboal, southern Cebu.

He added that in Panagsama, Moalboal, visitors pay to dive and witness the school of sardines, sometimes referred to as the “sardine run.”

“This is definitely a practice that is not sustainable. If they decimate the schools of fish with explosives, there will be nothing left,” Lim said.

Municipal waters

BFAR 7 Director Allan Poquita said law enforcement is needed to counter the trend towards illegal fishing techniques in municipal waters.

Poquita said municipal waters are areas covered within 15 kilometers from the coastline.

There are currently six patrol boats in the region to help them monitor the situations on the sea.

The Bantay Dagat, also known as the sea patrol, is a community-based and volunteer organization that works with the government to protect the municipal waters.

Very insignificant

Poquita said that based on estimates, there are less than two percent or around 3,784 fisherfolk out of 189,224 fisherfolk in the region resort to illegal fishing.

“Illegal fishing is still there, but it’s not the same as before, which was very bad. It is not rampant. Yes, there are information on illegal fishing but not like as before. Very insignificant,” he added.

He said majority of these violations take place in remote locations or in areas that are frequently unmonitored.

In addition to dynamite fishing, Poquita said other illegal fishing methods include using noxious or poisonous substances, using electricity, and using fine meshed nets.

Adverse effects

Poquita emphasized the negative effects of dynamite fishing, which could reduce fishermen’s catch and eventually have an impact on the economy.

Coral reefs are destroyed by explosions caused by dynamite fishing, which also kills fish, their eggs, and larvae and hurts other animals, including marine mammals

“If fisherfolk will continue this illegal practice, this will lead to a decrease in the amount of catch,” he said.

He continued that schools of fish will relocate to other areas when coral reefs, which are home of marine life, are devastated due to dynamite fishing.

Alex Baring, the head of the City Agriculture Fishery Office, told SunStar Cebu on Wednesday that dynamite fishing in Lapu-Lapu has been halted in the Hiluntungan Channel. In that area, there are members of coastal shore management who oversee its protection due to the presence of resorts, hotels, and sanctuaries. (with HIC)


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