Group decries unabated illegal fishing, destruction of mangroves in Quezon
LUCENA CITY — An environmentalist group has again sounded the alarm over the unhampered operations of commercial and illegal fishers in the seas off Quezon province that continue to pose a threat to the marine environment and the source of livelihood of residents in the area.
In an interview on Sunday, Jay Lim, project officer of Tanggol Kalikasan (TK), said illegal fishing in Quezon’s waters continued amid efforts of authorities to stop it.
The latest incident occurred on Sept. 9 when the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Southern Tagalog, together with teams from the Philippine Navy and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Fisheries Protection and Law Enforcement, arrested 31 crew members of two purse seine fishing vessels off the coast of Tayabas City that were caught with fish catch with a combined value of about P100 million.
Commodore Geronimo Tuvilla, the PCG-Southern Tagalog district commander, said their combined teams took custody of FV Princess Bernice Carmina, which had 15 crew members on board, and FV Lady Yasmin, along with its 16 crewmen.
Lim claimed that more illegal commercial fishing vessels operate with impunity not only in Tayabas Bay but also in Lamon Bay in the southern part of the province, while dynamite fishing activities have also been the subject of complaints from local fish wardens.
Illegal fishing activities were also being reported almost every day by the Quezon police.
Fish wardens’ woes
The resource-rich Lamon Bay facing the Pacific Ocean covers towns in the southern part of Quezon, while Tayabas Bay encompasses the northeastern towns of Quezon, the island province of Marinduque, and parts of Batangas.
Lim said that the about 100 fish wardens from Quezon’s coastal municipalities along Tayabas Bay who took part in TK’s workshop last month had decried the rampant illegal fishing, mangrove deforestation, and sand quarrying as among many other threats to the marine environment in the province.
Lim said the fish wardens particularly cited dynamite fishing that continued unabated in the two bays despite the danger it posed to the culprits, citing an incident on Aug. 23 when two brothers were injured in a dynamite explosion while fishing in the Polillo Group of Islands in Lamon Bay.
Mangrove forests, also known as the “rainforest of the sea,” are an important part of the marine ecosystem, as the roots of the trees provide shelter for marine life while their fallen leaves become feed for fish and other marine animals.
Cutting mangrove trees is banned by Presidential Decree No. 705, or the Forestry Code of the Philippines, and Republic Act No. 8550, otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code. INQ