The unabated illegal fishing activities in the coastal waters of Ilocos Sur have caused the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to raise alarm calling for reinforcement of counter offensive to stop the practice.
Calling the illegal fishers “armed and dangerous” the BFAR Provincial Fishery Regulatory Office said there is a need to augment the equipment of law enforcers, particularly Bantay Dagat (Sea Patrol) group, to neutralize the unlawful activities in the province’s fishing waters.
BFAR Provincial Fishery Regulatory Officer Benny Saraoas said illegal fishermen have been threatening with their firearms or explosives any law enforcer who would come close to their fishing areas.
“Illegal fishermen plying the coastal waters of Sinait town even wave their firearms and would not let the Bantay Dagat come closer to where they conduct their illegal activities,” Saraoas said.
The fisheries officer said solutions to address illegal fishing problems are challenging. It was noted that tough decisions are needed and equally equipped law enforcers to stabilize and reverse the malpractices plaguing fisheries and coastal habitats in the province.
The illegal fishing practices could eventually cause crisis like declining fish catch, depletion of marine species and destroy the sea bed not only in the area but the region.
A recently conducted saturation drive in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry in Candon City Public Market revealed that vendors are selling fish caught by dynamite fishing and electrofishing.
“We are warning everyone not to buy fish which were caught using dynamite fishing or electrofishing, and which are almost mangled, smelly and therefore not healthy to eat due to chemicals used in catching fish,” Saraoas said.
Meanwhile, the provincial government of Ilocos Sur continue to train Bantay Dagat volunteers to help the local government protect marine resources in the coastal waters as well as stop illegal fishing activities.
Governor Ryan Singson said it is important that the coastal waters are protected and clean not only to preserve marine resources, but also to promote tourism in these areas and create more jobs to non-fishing coastal community residents.
Strict monitoring of all public wet markets and fish ports has been put in place to ensure that fish caught using dynamite and other illegal practices will not be sold to public consumers.
Earlier, the BFAR donated two motorized boats for Caoayan town and Candon City to strengthen its campaign against illegal fishing and which are also used in rescue operations during calamities.