The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will be filing complaints against 30 individuals for fishing in a protected area.
In a statement, DENR Central Visayas said a case has been filed against 30 individuals for violation of Section 20 of Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.
The move came after a joint seaborne operation was conducted by the DENR with operatives from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Philippine National Police (PNP) wherein two illegal commercial fishing vessels were caught illegally fishing within the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS).
DENR Regional Director Dr. Isabelo R. Montejo has instructed all DENR enforcement division staff, protected areas superintendents and all protected area rangers to continue to conduct regular monitoring and surveillance operation on illegal fishing activities in the region.
The TSPS was declared a protected seascape by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 1234 signed by then President Fidel Ramos on May 27, 1998 in recognition of the area’s extraordinary abundance of marine resources and diverse kinds of dolphins and whales.
“This is the biggest and the most number [of people]charged [by the DENR regional office],” DENR Regional Public Affairs Office chief Dr. Eddie Llamedo told The Manila Times in a text message.
The charge sheet that was filed at the Negros Oriental Provincial Prosecutor’s Office on October 8, mentioned the facts and circumstances constituting the alleged offenses as narrated in the affidavit of foresters Percival Fiel, Melchor Rhett Sarmago, and Alvin Bayucot.
Based on the agency’s incident report, on September 24 at about 4 a.m., the team spotted FB San Vicente Ferrer, which is owned by a certain Fredo Scoba, conducting illegal fishing activities.
The operatives detained the vessel and confiscated around 15 fish coolers with three coolers filled with assorted kinds of fish, ropes, battery, a fish net, a sinker, engine, plastic barrel and fish finder.
At least 12 crew members were charged, including the vessel owner all from Barangay Sta. Filomena, Alegria town, Cebu province.
Another illegal fishing vessel, the FB Sto. Niño, which is owned by a certain Florante Jara, was flagged down a few minutes after.
The same team from the joint operation seized 15 fish coolers, three ropes, a fish net, a scope net, an empty gallon and a fish finder.
The officials identified 18 crew members, all are from Barangay Camandayon, Jimalalud town, Negros Oriental province.
The crewmembers from both vessels failed to show documents and were subsequently detained and turned over to the PNP in Bindoy town, Negros Oriental.
In a related development, two other fishing vessels were apprehended in separate surveillance operations held on October 10 for illegally fishing along the coast of Barangay Zaragosa, Badian, Cebu and along the coast of Barangay Bulado, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.
“Our team is still preparing all the needed documents for the filing of case for these offenders, we will file the case maybe by next week,” said Montejo.
Montejo also added that more operations will be conducted in various illegal fishing hotspots especially within the marine protected areas in the region.