Coral reefs sighted in SRP area

Coral reefs sighted in SRP area

A PORTION of Cebu City’s municipal waters could soon be declared as a marine protected area (MPA) where fishing could no longer be allowed due to the presence of coral reefs in the area.

Cebu City Bantay Dagat Director Karlon Rama told SunStar Cebu on Monday, July 8, 2024, that they are in the final stages of declaring the MPA through an Executive Order (EO) signed by Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia.

The coral reefs, located parallel to the South Road Properties near the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway, will be designated a “No Take Zone,” Rama said.

The EO’s goal is to allow fish and other marine life in the area to thrive and breed, which will be beneficial to fisherfolk along the city’s coastline.

The coral reefs have an area of around one hectare based on their initial study, Rama said.

Rama said the City’s legal team is looking into penalties and fines under existing laws and regulations that can be incorporated into the draft EO.

Rama said that Bantay Dagat is also proposing to support the draft EO with an ordinance creating an agency or taskforce that will focus on maintaining and protecting the MPA. This will include the allocation of funds and manpower.

Study

Rama said Bantay Dagat has an ongoing collaboration with various institutions and the private sector to lead a study on how to develop marine life in the area.

More than 300 families living on the city’s coastline, especially in Barangay Inayawan, depend on fishing as a means of livelihood.

This includes the use of pamingwit or pamasol (fishing rod or fishing tackle) and the use of lines and panggal (fish traps) which are considered legal.

The urgency of the initiatives followed reports of the return of the illegal fishing method called “liba-liba” or the Danish seine fishing method observed within the city’s municipal in the last weeks, Rama said.

Illegal fishing

The return of the liba-liba was attributed to the observed presence of juvenile mangsi or goldstripe sardinella (a kind of sardines) in the city’s seawaters in recent months.

Liba-liba uses a cone-shaped net with wings attached to a rope with counterweights to scare or guide fish. It can be operated either mechanically or manually by fishermen.

Under Republic Act (RA) 10654, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, the fishing method is prohibited as it also damages coral reefs and seabeds.

Also known as hulbot-hulbot, Rama said the method deprives fishermen who use the line fishing method of their livelihood.

Rama said Bantay Dagat has called the attention of the Philippine Coast Guard, the Philippine National Police Maritime Group, and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to intensify patrols and apprehensions against illegal fishing. / EHP

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