By Jezza A. Nepomoceno
ILOILO – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has committed to deploy one of its monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) ships to intensify the enforcement of laws protecting the Visayan Sea.
BFAR Western Visayas Regional Director Remia Aparri made the commitment during the recently-concluded 7th Governor’s Summit on the Alliance of Provinces for the Protection of Visayan Sea hosted by Iloilo Governor Arthur D. Defensor Sr.
Aparri said she already requested the help of BFAR Assistant Director for Technical Services Drusila Esther Bayate for the deployment of permanent MCS vessel which will served as mother ship for the conservation and restoration efforts in one of the country’s richest fishing grounds.
“Before going here, I phoned her and she said she will help us,” Aparri said referring to her conversation with Bayate when asked by Atty. Antonio Oposa, the brain behind the alliance of provinces, if they can facilitate the approval of the proposal.
The draft of the letter-request for Visayan Sea mother ship is addressed to outgoing President Benigno Aquino III through Department of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Undersecretary Asis Perez.
Once approved, the MCS vessel will be supported by BFAR-6’s two patrol boats based in Higantes Island, Carles, Iloilo.
BFAR-6 and Iloilo Provincial Bantay Dagat Task Force (IPBDTF) will also synchronize their patrol operation against illegal fishing in Northern Iloilo just like with Negros Occidental’s Task Force Lawod.
The agency will also inspect the gears of hulbot-turn-trawl operators before they will issue their permit to fish this year in response to reports that some of them are still using modified hulbot in fishing.
The nationwide ban on the use of hulbot-hulbot or Danish seine is mandated under Fisheries Administrative Order No. 246, in relation to Sec. 92 of Republic Act 8550, as amended.
The ban forced the hulbot-hulbot operators to change their fishing gears but some remains defiant of the order.
Three hulbot-hulbot motorboats, for instance, have been impounded here after these were abandoned by its crew during the pursuit operation of IPBDTF.
From January 1 to May 31, 2016, IPBDTF managed to accuse 10 fishermen for violation of FAO 246 in court and seven others fell for dynamite fishing or violation of Sec. 88 of RA 8550, as amended.
A total of 76 motorboats using trawl and round haul were also caught fishing within the municipal waters in the last five months.