By Elmer James Bandol
DONSOL, Sorsogon (BicolToday.com/4-Nov-2012) – “We are in deep trouble. The government must acknowledge that our seas are in crisis”, said Vince Clinches, Ocean Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, who urged the national government to come up with fisheries rescue roadmap.
“Our seas are already under threat from massive overfishing and decades of unsustainable fishing practices that resulted in dwindling fish catch. Ocean acidification and increasing sea temperatures, fish won’t be able to spawn and propagate thus leaves 30 million Filipinos with even less fish to eat” Clinches added.
Greenpeace reported that fisheries has an annual estimated production of 6 million metric tons of fish, however, a steady decline has be noted due to overfishing by illegal commercial fishing vessels which the government failed to address. It mentioned that earlier this year, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic resources (BFAR) revealed that ten out of 13 fishing grounds in the country are heavily exploited due to illegal and unregulated fishing activities.
The challenge of an environment advocate was echoed during the community conference held Thursday (Oct. 25, 2012) at the Municipal Hall of this town known worldwide as the habitat of the “gentle giant fish” specie called Butanding and the manta rays’ bowl are both under threats.
In the conference, fisher folk, environment guardians including government representatives of law enforcement agencies expressed their concerns on why unabated illegal fishing still rampant in Bicol seas covering Masbate, Ticao, Burias, Sorsogon and Albay where commercial fishing vessels are operating even at the very noses of the law enforcement agencies.
For law enforcement side, it was explained that lack of manpower; confusion on how Fishery Code R. A. 8550 should be enforced without budget, while the problem on how accountability will be answered as the pressing problems behind illegal fishing are within the corridors of the local government units were discussed during the said conference.
Msgr. Angel Dy, of Social Action, Sorsogon Diocese, said “We know that illegal and unregulated fishing is rampant and yet no one seems to be doing anything about it”. He explained the reason why last year some Bishops went to President Aquino to request that highest office of the land should ban commercial fishing vessels to operate around Burias, Ticao, and Ragay Gulf.
For Albay, the Sangguniang Panglalawigan during the regular session, has taken cognizance of the presence of large fishing vessels where the chair of committee on environment, Board Member Arnold S. Embestro, termed it as “illegal fishing armada” which could be mistaken that illegal fishers are well armed and dangerous. [BicolToday.com]