Anti-illegal fishing efforts ‘underappreciated’

A SIMULATION exercise at the Iloilo Fishing Port Complex in Brgy. Tanza Baybay, City Proper, Iloilo City depicted an anti-illegal commercial fishing operation. (Photo courtesy of Joselito Villasis)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-6 and Oceana Philippines on Thursday led a simulation exercise in Iloilo City to highlight the critical role of law enforcers in curbing illegal fishing activities in Western Visayas.

The exercise was held at the Iloilo Fishing Port Complex, Brgy. Tanza Baybay, City Proper district.

The simulation exercise, which depicted an anti-illegal commercial fishing operation, was part of the training for prosecutors and judges on fisheries and coastal law, according to Oceana Philippines Vice president Gloria Ramos.

Ramos lamented that efforts of law enforcement agencies against illegal fishers have not been appreciated.

Napansin namin na hindi appreciated yung work ng mga enforcer kasi kahit na-file na yung kaso, yung iba nakadismiss and nakatabi,” she said.

According to Ramos, enforcement is a deterrent to illegal fishing activities happening across the globe.

Napakaimportante ng role ng enforcement kasi it’s a deterrent sa illegal fishing that is happening. We are overfished already and more than 2/3 of our fishing grounds are exploited,” she said.

BFAR-6 Assistant Regional Director Carlito Delfin re-echoed the sentiments of Ramos saying that the simulation exercise will make the participants more aware of the protocols on onboard operations against illegal commercial fishing boats.

“This is very important makita sang mga participants especially sa aton mga prosecutor, judges and fiscal kun ano ang ginagawa ng law enforcement team during the conduct of onboard operations. This simulation is also important for BFAR and of course sa amon man na partners kay para makita kun ano bala ang protocols mag-conduct onboard operation nga ara sa lawod,” he said.

Delfin added that the role of BFAR is mainly on filing cases against the violators with corresponding apprehension together with the Philippine National Police (PNP), Maritime Police Command (MARICOM), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

In the region, Delfin said that hotspot areas are in Northern Iloilo, particularly the town of Carles since it is closest to the Visayan Sea.

“Most of the common violations are encroachment and use of municipal gear in the municipal waters,” he said.

Still, Ramos lauded the region for enforcing measures against the conduct of these illegal activities.

“We are commending the Region 6 kasi nagi-enforce na talaga sila. We believe this simulation is part of the process of increasing awareness on the importance of having abundance in fisheries and food security in the country,” she said.