Blast fishing in Lingayen Gulf goes on, say villagers
DAGUPAN CITY—Almost every midnight, Consuelo Perez’s house by the beach in San Fabian, Pangasinan province, would shudder from loud blasts coming from the Lingayen Gulf to indicate an indiscriminate slaughter of marine life was taking place.
“They do it, I think, when people are already sleeping,” said Perez, referring to fishermen engaged in dynamite fishing and who are operating with impunity in the gulf near the shores of San Fabian.
On Sunday morning, she found dead fish strewn on the beach near her house fronting a beach in Barangay Bolasi.
Perez, a former governor of the Board of Investments and a daughter of the late Speaker Eugenio Perez, said she had been hearing explosions day and night since Sept. 4. “My house shakes whenever there is an explosion,” she said by telephone.
On a sheet of paper, she wrote down the time and day of the explosions: as early as 1 a.m. and as late as midnight, every day, from Sept. 4 to Sept. 19.
When Perez, who retired from government service in 2010, reported the incidents to the San Fabian police, she was told that they could not chase the illegal fishers because they had no boat to use.
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel stationed in San Fabian said they had been watching the area but had not arrested anyone.
Illegal fishers gone
Lt. Senior Grade Alexander Corpuz, Pangasinan PCG station commander, said the PCG personnel had responded to Perez’s reports but when his men went to the area, the illegal fishers were gone.
“We patrol the area every day. The illegal fishers are from other provinces,” Corpuz said by telephone. He pointed out that the Lingayen Gulf area near San Fabian is so wide that illegal fishers can easily run away.
Environmentalists have expressed fear that with rampant blast fishing activities in the area, whale sharks, which have regularly visited the waters of San Fabian since 2001, may not return.
Two years ago, four whale sharks appeared in the gulf. Their presence brought extra income to resorts and boat owners, and boosted the town’s tourism industry.
Board member Mojamito
Libunao, a former mayor of San Fabian, said he had been receiving text messages and calls about rampant dynamite fishing and the use of “boli-boli” (fine mesh nets which catch even the small fish) by illegal fishers in the town’s waters.
“The practice is more pernicious and destructive than dynamite fishing because it covers square kilometers of the sea where the seabed is destroyed,” Libunao said.
In a report, Senior Supt. Rollie Saltat, officer in charge of the Pangasinan police, said the latest operation against illegal fishing activities in the province resulted in the arrest of 13 people using boli-boli in the waters off the Hundred Islands National Park in Barangay Lucap, Alaminos City, early this month.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.