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54 charged for illegal fishing in Tañon Strait

Kristine B. Quintas/NSA (The Freeman) - November 17, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - At least 54 people are facing criminal complaints before different prosecutors’ offices in Central Visayas after they were caught allegedly poaching in Tañon Strait.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7 has recently filed a case against commercial fishermen before Toledo City Prosecutor’s Office, and provincial prosecutor’s office in Cebu and in Negros Oriental for violating Section 20 of Republic Act 7586, also known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System or NIPAS of 1992.

Also, the agency apprehended four fishing boats used during the conduct of illegal fishing from September to October this year. These fishing boats — FB San Vicente Ferrer, FB Sto Niño, FB Blue Heaven and FB Adianne—are in custody of Tañon Strait Protected Seascape-Protected Area Superintendent in Badian, Cebu.

According to DENR, the fishermen were caught illegally fishing in the waters of TSPS area, which resulted to their immediate arrest through a joint seaborne operation of DENR with operatives from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-7 and the Philippine National Police.

Section 20 of RA 7586 prohibits “hunting, destroying, disturbing, or mere possession of any plants or animals or products derived therefrom without a permit from the Management Board.” It also prohibits the use of motorized equipment without permits.

Similar law also states that any person found guilty of violating such provision shall be fined of not more than P500,000 exclusive of the value of the damage or imprisonment for not more than six years, or both, as determined by the court.

With the incessant illegal fishing activities there, DENR-7 director Isabelo Montejo has directed the protected area superintendent of TSPS and some protected area rangers to conduct regular monitoring, patrol, and surveillance operation within the entire stretch of TSPS against illegal fishing activities.

Montejo also added that more operations will be conducted in various illegal fishing hotspots especially within the marine protected areas in the region.

He further said that he will tap the expertise of nature conservation groups like Oceana, local government units and other stakeholders to help in the enforcement and prosecution of erring persons.

The TSPS office, on the other hand, is eyeing to purchase one patrol boat next year to be used in the surveillance and monitoring operations.

The TSPS, which lies between the islands Negros and Cebu and covers 521,018 hectares and borders 677 kilometers, is among the country’s top 10 major fishing grounds where about 26,000 fishers operate.

It has also been regarded as an important migration corridor for whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals, making it a preferred destination for whale-watchers, conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts.

It was declared a protected seascape by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 1234 signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos last May 27, 1998 in recognition of its extraordinary abundance and diverse assemblage of dolphins, whales and other marine species. —(FREEMAN)

ACIRC ATILDE BLUE HEAVEN BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES CEBU CENTRAL VISAYAS DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES FISHING ISABELO MONTEJO MANAGEMENT BOARD NATIONAL INTEGRATED PROTECTED AREAS SYSTEM
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