TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: At least 18 suspected Vietnamese poachers were arrested by joint elements of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) off the Calayan Group of Islands here.
BFAR Region 2 fishery law enforcer Rommel Diciano said law enforcers on May 12 were conducting a seaborne patrol aboard BFAR patrol vessels when they chanced upon the foreigners, who were on board three fishing boats.
He said that the patrol team spotted at least 10 foreign registered fishing boats northwest of Calayan town that hastily scampered away to evade authorities.
Only three of the 10 boats, with 18 people on board, were apprehended. Their vessels bore only a bow number with no pertinent documents on its identity and registration.
The suspects, whose nationality was confirmed to be Vietnamese, were brought to Port Irene in the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority in Santa Ana town for processing under the custody of the BFAR and the PCG.
Administrative and criminal complaints are being readied against the suspects for violation of Section 91 of Republic Act 10654 or Poaching in Philippine Waters.
Violation of the said provision carries a penalty of up to P1.2 million and imprisonment from six months to three years.
Poaching has been subject of complaints by local fishers, who claim that illegal fishing by foreign nationals in the area has been proliferating unabated, to the detriment of their livelihood.