BFAR imposes harsh penalties vs illegal fishers

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THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) will impose stricter penalties on illegal fishers, especially foreign fishermen caught poaching in Philippine waters, officials said.

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In 2016, the agency filed 361 cases against fishermen who were caught illegally fishing, including foreigners suspected of poaching.

The P10.7 million fines collected during this period had been remitted to the National Treasury, while P688 million went to the local government unit treasury.

This year, 682 fishing boats were seized and the owners of 296 boats were penalized.

Drusila Esther Bayate, Assistant Director for Technical Services, said illegal fishers are fined P600,000 for the first offense.

Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Vice President and Country Head of Oceana Philippines, urged the public to file a case against government officials who are tolerating illegal fishing in their area.

“All citizens should participate in management of our fisheries, and if there is a violation of the fisheries law or any public official who does not implement the law or wrongfully implements the provisions of the law then any citizen can follow suit,” Estenzo-Ramos said.

“It can be either administrative, criminal, or civil [case]. We are encouraging citizens (to file cases) because we know that some coastal municipalities tolerate dynamite fishing, commercial fishing,” she added.

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