PNP Maritime Group commended for catching illegal fishers in Tawi-Tawi
This handout photo shows the Philippine National Police Maritime Group apprehending a vessel for illegal fishing in municipal waters in Tawi-Tawi.
Oceana, handout
PNP Maritime Group commended for catching illegal fishers in Tawi-Tawi
( - October 21, 2020 - 11:05am

MANILA, Philippines — Environmental groups on Wedenesday commended the police Maritime Group for implementing the Amended Fisheries Code in Tawi-Tawi with the apprehension of five boats using "superlights" in the municipal waters of Languyan.

In a joint statement, Oceana, Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Philippine Earth Justice Center and Pangisda Natin Gawin Tama (PaNaGaT) said the Amended Fisheries Code bans the use of "superlights", or fishing light attractors, in municipal waters and bays.

The groups said the arrest by the Maritime Group's 1st Special Operations unit of LB Khalil 6, LB Khalil 4, LB Rain, LB Balyena VII and LB Yaz on October 8 demonstrated "exemplary performance of their mandate to implement our laws including the Fisheries Code as amended by RA 10654, amid the COVID-19 pandemic."

They said that using "superlights" disadvantages municipal fisherfolks who use sustainable fishing methods like hook-and-line fishing, which they said are "no match to the sophisticated and highly efficient fishing gears employed by commercial fishing vessels."

"By protecting the municipal waters from illegal fishing encroachment, we are protecting the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the marginal fisherfolks to the preferential use of their traditional fishing grounds," they also said.

Vessel tracking system now required

Aside from banning the use of fishing light attractors, the Amended Fisheries Code also requires commercial fishing vessels to install a vessel monitoring syste.

The Department of Agriculture on October 15 issued the vessel monitoring rules under Fisheries Administrative Order 266.

Under the order, vessels weighing 3.1 gross tons to less than 30 GT must have a DA-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-approved vessel monitoring systems within one year from the effectivity of the FAO.

For vessels that are 30 GT or heavier, VMS must be installed immediately.

The implementation of the VMM will enhance the capacity of the government to monitor fishing operations and enforce laws in Philippine waters to achieve long-term sustainability of marine resources, the department said.

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