BFAR bans fishing in Visayan Sea
An interagency enforcement team is reactivated to guard the Visayan Sea for three months to prevent any fishing activity to allow the pelagic marine species there to spawn.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)-7 convened yesterday afternoon the officials and representatives of concerned agencies to discuss matters in improving surveillance in the Visayan Sea so as to deter all forms of fishing.
“We called for a meeting with all stakeholders to map out the seaborne patrol scheme and harmonize our command,” said BFAR-7 Director Dr. Allan Poquita.
The team is composed of BFAR-7 Enforcement Unit; Philippine National PoliceMaritime Unit; Philippine Coast Guard-District Central Visayas; and the Philippine Navy.
By establishing a stronger linkage together with the local government units, the team can easily identify, locate, and arrest violators and confiscate their vessels.
The composite team also plans to use an effective communication system during the 24/7 enforcement.
They also intend to trace as many intelligence data as possible of all illegal activities or any modus operandi and identify the connections of organizations behind the vessel's operators.
BFAR-7 planned a sendoff ceremony for the assigned personnel that will be held in Daanbantayan, Cebu on November 15 and also to launch formally the closed season in the Visayan Sea.
This means, fishing in the Visayan Sea, which lies above the northern tip of Cebu, is prohibited from that day until February 15.
The closed season is actually established through an existing policy inscribed under Fishery Administrative Order 167-3.
Poquita said the policy was created to support a scientific research that identifies the three-month period as the spawning season of three marine species that includes sardines, herrings, and mackerels found in the Visayan Sea.
The Visayan Sea, one of the country's major fishing grounds abundant of pelagic fisheries resources, is surrounded by islands: Cebu on the southeast; Negros on the south; Panay on the west; and Masbate on the north.
Poquita said preventing any fishing activity in the waters would allow for these species to grow and flourish in number resulting to bigger fish catch or fisheries production and generating income to a number of fishers.
He said they have done this for six years already and fishing operators had been observing the policy, however, he does not intend to lower their guard.
On the part of BFAR, the regional office is set to deploy its floating assets including patrol boats to be visible in the hot spot fishing grounds to deter violations.
As what has been implemented, small-scale fishers will be driven away from venturing or fishing into the seas while commercial fishing operators will be apprehended.
A violator, he said, may be imprisoned for six months to six years and may be fined with P6,000. If operating with license, the owner's fishing permit may be cancelled, he added.
BFAR-7, through its administrative adjudication, will file the necessary charges and impose fine.
Meanwhile, at least 83 new units of Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) surveillance boats is set to be distributed on November 16 in Carmen, Cebu to beneficiaries, particularly coastal cities and municipalities in Cebu and Bohol provinces.
What used to be a boatmaking project of BFAR-7 has turned into augmentation of floating assets for coastal localities.
Poquita said the project promotes eco-friendly technology since the locallymade boats are made of fiber glass than timber.
He said training over 300 locals in coastal villages of the region was part of the project of BFAR and had been funded by Senator Loren Legarda. Each boat, mounted with 16 horsepower Honda engine, cost P85,000.
Poquita said the boats will be turned over and will benefit the local government units in reinforcing their seaborne patrol operations to deter illegal fishing.
LOCAL fiSHERMEN WILL HAVE TO fiND OTHER PLACES TO CATCH MARINE SPECIES IN THE NEXT THREE MONTHS, SINCE THE VISAYAN SEAS WILL BE CLOSED FOR fiSHING STARTING TOMORROW TO GIVE WAY FOR THE SPAWNING SEASON OF THREE MARINE SPECIES THAT INCLUDES SARDINES, HERRINGS, AND MACKERELS.