Bantay Dagat seeks BFAR, CG’s help vs. illegal fishing

Bantay Dagat seeks BFAR, CG’s help vs. illegal fishing

THE lack of fish wardens has forced the Cebu City Government to partner with other agencies to address the resurgence of illegal fishing.

Cebu City’s Bantay Dagat team posted a video on Facebook on Saturday, July 6, 2024, showing fishermen catching fish through what appeared to be liba-liba, or the Danish seine fishing method.

It called the attention of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Philippine National Police Maritime Group that the practice is prohibited under Republic Act (RA) 10654, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

Bantay Dagat program director Karlon Rama, in an interview on Sunday, July 7, said liba-liba, also known as hulbot-hulbot, deprives fishermen who use the line fishing method of their livelihood.

“Liba-liba is just one of the many threats that are there, which we need to immediately address despite our challenges,” he said in a mix of English and Cebuano.

Rama said Cebu City has no problem with fishermen from other local government units fishing in the city’s municipal waters, but they should refrain from using active fishing gears.

“Dapat dili nato hutdon, binlan nato aron musanay pa. Kung sudlan gani na og fisherfolks nga mugamit og active fishing gears hurot man gyud na tanan. Ang ending ang pipila ray mabulahan, the rest, gutom, which is not what we want. Social justice lang gud, angay-angay lang,” he said.

(We should not exhaust all the fishes so they can have time to reproduce. If fisherfolks using active fishing gear enter the area, they will exhaust everything. The ending would be only a few become fortunate while leaving the rest hungry, which is not what we want. There should be social justice.)

“The bounty of the sea is for sharing but not for destruction kay kung aton idestroy pana siya unsa paman atong ishare (because if we destroy, then what can we share)?” he added.

According to RA 10654, acting fishing gear “is a fishing device characterized by the pursuit of the target species by towing, pushing the gears, surrounding, covering, dredging and scaring the target species to impoundments, such as but not limited to trawl, purse seines, Danish seines, paaling and drift gill net.”

Passive fishing gear “is characterized by the absence of pursuit of the target species, such as, but not limited to, hook and line, fishpots, traps and gill nets set across the path of the fish.”

However, Rama said they cannot apprehend violators since Cebu City has no fish wardens, which is why he asked the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to deputize the Bantay Dagat personnel as fish wardens.

He said he met with the Bantay Dagat Commission last Friday, July 5, during which they issued a resolution asking the PCG to set up a detachment.

According to Rama, the resolution was to ask the Coast Guard Station of Cebu, under the Coast Guard District Central Visayas, to establish an outpost at the Cebu City Bantay Dagat Forward Operating Base and conduct regular patrols against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in the city’s municipal waters.

“So, they can assign personnel that will be based there so they can respond. That is our request to them,” he said in Cebuano.

Rama said Cebu City has around 300 families who rely on fishing for their livelihood.

“Their fishing methods there are the use of pamingwit or pamasol (fishing rod or fishing tackle) and the use of lines and panggal (fish traps) and these are legal since it is passive,” he said.

He said that in Talisay City, which has a bigger coastal area or open water, fisherfolks use liba-liba fishing.

“Oftentimes, especially now that Mangsi (fish species) has returned to the waters of Cebu City, they have come back, which is why our fisherfolks are complaining because they use passive fishing,” he said in mix of Cebuano and English.

He said fisherfolks in Cebu City cannot compete against those using the liba-iba or hulbot-hulbot fishing method.

Meanwhile, Rama said Cebu City’s Bantay Dagat team uses private pumpboats and buys fuel using personal money to fight illegal fishing.

He said Bantay Dagat used to have a pumpboat, but this sank during typhoon Odette.

He said they end up playing a game of “cat and mouse” with violators.

“Once they spot our pumpboat, they immediately leave the territorial jurisdiction of Cebu City and we cannot go after them. But once we’re gone, they come back,” he said in Cebuano. / JPS

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