Stop overfishing off Masbate, CamSur, Greenpeace urges gov’t
DONSOL, Sorsogon–The inaction of local and national authorities in addressing widespread illegal fishing activities off Burias and Ticao Pass in Masbate and Ragay Gulf in Camarines Sur would endanger the country’s marine resources, according to a worldwide environment conservation group.
Vince Cinches, oceans campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, at a community conference held here over the weekend, said the Philippines’ marine resources were under threat from overfishing and unsound fishing practices that endanger not only the fishing industry but the livelihood and food security of communities.
Cinches said illegal and unregulated fishing practices, especially those used by large fishing vessels, have contributed significantly to the depletion of marine resources.
In Bicol, he said, here are at least 387 commercial fishing boats owned by 248 operators which are engaged in trawl fishing.
These operators use “fish aggregation devices” or FADs that are designed to scoop up a sizeable population of fish species in one fell swoop of a net and are usually used with the purse seine nets methods of fishing, he said.
Mgsr. Angel Dy of the Sorsogon Social Action Foundation, in an interview, said fisherfolk around the Burias-Ticao Pass in Masbate and the Ragay Gulf in Camarines Sur could not compete with large commercial fishing vessels that encroach on municipal waters.
“We know that illegal and unregulated fishing is rampant in our waters and yet no one seems to be doing anything about it,” he said.
Dy said it was one reason why last year, four Bicol bishops went to President Aquino to request for a ban on commercial vessels in waters around the provinces of Masbate, Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur.
Quoting data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Greenpeace said the Philippines has 24 fishing grounds with an estimated production of 5.1 million metric tons of fish. Of these fishing grounds 13, or 54 percent, are over exploited due to illegal and unregulated fishing activities.
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