TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) started cracking down on unlicensed commercial fishing vessels (CFVs) as part of its broader mission to deter and eventually eliminate all forms of illegal fishing.
Lawyer Samuel Agaloos, BFAR-Region 2 law enforcement chief, said the bureau has apprehended seven commercial fishing vessels and one rescue boat used in fishing since the start of their operation last week.
Of the seven commercial vessels, two – with markings “SRJ” and “Ann Mark” – have paid a compromise P65,000 fine each.
Agaloos said criminal complaints will also be filed against the owners of the other vessels – F/B M Ghie (1), F/B M Ghie (2), F/B Solomons Mine, F/B Twin Sister and F/B John Vie.
He explained that CFVs are those with a gross tonnage of 3.1 and above which are designated to operate beyond municipal waters. These vessels are required to register with the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) and secure CFVs and gear license with the BFAR.
“The operation of unlicensed CFVs are akin to unregistered public utility vehicles (PUVs). They create unfair competition against legally operating fishing vessels,” Agaloos stressed.
He said the BFAR has two fishery law enforcement teams to tackle eastern and western parts of the Babuyan Channel in northern Cagayan while a third team will tackle inland areas as well as other fishery law enforcement concerns such as the use of galadgad (trawl) and sayut (stationary nets).
Meanwhile, the BFAR also strengthened its quarantine checkpoints in the region to ensure that transported fish and fishery products have the necessary documents.
Agaloos said the bureau will also establish a Cyanide Detection Test Laboratory in Santa Ana town to curb the use of cyanide in fishing.
BFAR Regional Director Milagros Morales said the agency’s fishery law enforcement efforts go hand-in-hand with the establishment and monitoring of livelihood projects as well as the bureau’s information campaign.
“We implement a holistic approach in order to solve the illegal fishing problem in the region,” Morales said.