LEGAZPI CITY: Greenpeace has come to the defense of Bicol’s top policeman over the issue of bribes from illegal fishing activities.
“We don’t doubt the integrity of Gen. Deona, and this unfounded accusation is definitely being orchestrated by illegal fishers and their political allies who are hurting due to the strong implementation of the country’s fisheries code around Bicol,” Vince Cinches, Oceans campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines, said referring to Bicol police regional director Chief Supt. Victor Deona.
The Bicol region is notorious for rampant illegal commercial fishing, where large vessels encroach on municipal waters that are exclusive to small-scale fisher folk. Deona has been credited by Greenpeace for curbing illegal fishing in the region.
In July 2013, during the Oceans Defender Tour, the Greenpeace ship M/Y Esperanza together with personnel from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Region V patrolled Bicol waters and apprehended commercial fishing vessels without proper licenses and using prohibited fishing gear.
“A single illegal commercial fishing boat can rob 70 small municipal fishers of potential fish catch, If we can just take out even one illegal commercial boat from the sea, it would mean an additional 729 kilograms per day or 175 metric tons per year of potential fish catch which can be shared by municipal fisher folk,” Cinches said.
“We are expecting an escalated attack from illegal fishers as the amended fisheries code will now prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal fishing with high penalties, their happy days are about to end, and we will see to it that it will happen,” he added.
He said that multi-sectoral campaign including the efforts of Rep. Fernando Gonzalez of Albay around Burias-Ticao Pass is paying off as close to 80 percent of illegal fishing has been stopped.
“We urged the PNP [Philippine National Police] to continue the legacy of General Deona, by detailing a pro-municipal fisherfolk, pro-healthy ocean regional director, once General Deona moves to Camp Crame to assume a higher position,” Cinches said.