TUGUEGARAO CITY: To boost maritime security and counter illegal fishing as well as other interventions in the Cagayan Valley region, various defense equipment are “on the pipeline,” according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).
BFAR officials said that as a result of the regular Fisheries and Marine Environmental Protection meeting, the BFAR is set to provide six patrol vessels to be stationed in Batanes, Isabela and Cagayan.
BFAR Region 2 Director Jovita Ayson said the patrol vessels will be “stationed full-time” and that the ongoing improvement of the shelter port in Batanes will make this possible.
Meanwhile, the San Vicente Naval Operating Base (SVNOB) in Santa Ana town in Cagayan said the Philippine Navy has been working for the installation of a radar in Batan Island in Batanes province.
“This shall enable us to monitor movement of sea craft within the northern borders of the country without the need to conduct costly sea patrols,” said SVNOB Commander Macario Duque.
In another development, officers of the Fishery Law Enforcement Division (FLED) of the BFAR said that a total of 20 foreign fishing vessels have been apprehended in the region since 2006.
Arsenio Bañares, FLED chief, said poachers have paid a total of $320,000 in administrative penalty.
But despite modest success, BFAR officials said there has been a very low conviction rate particularly on criminal cases filed against poachers.
Thus, Ayson is appealing to “government prosecutors [to]help us attain a higher conviction rate.”
However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said that the low turn out of convictions is due to lack of evidence by complainants.
Lawyer Jacqueline Bundoc of the DOJ has advised the apprehending agencies and complainants to comply with all the documentary requirements.
“Complainants need to submit complete set of evidence so that the prosecutors can examine the complaints carefully,” Bundoc said.
Poachers are reportedly using the Danish seine and modified seine, also locally known as “buli-buli” which is banned under the Fisheries Administrative Order 246.
Ayson said that fishery law enforcers need to “evolve” and intensify their campaign against “blast fishing” given the changing tactics employed by poachers.
However, Ayson said, the BFAR is set to embark on a regionwide campaign to orient all newly elected barangay captains and “deputize them as fish wardens.”
“The BFAR is also currently on the thick of implementation of livelihood projects for fisherfolk associations in coastal areas of Cagayan as one way to dissuade fishers from illegal fishing,” she said.