BFAR stops fish boats with Danish seines
DAGUPAN CITY—The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has stopped issuing fishing clearances to commercial fishing vessels (CFVs) using Danish seine, a fishing gear that drags fish toward a net which has been prohibited since September 2013.
Their licenses have not expired, but CFVs are not allowed to go out to the sea without a fishing clearance, said Mary Ann Solomon, head of BFAR Ilocos’ regulatory and licensing section.
During a bureau meeting last week, owners of seine-equipped CFVs here asked if they could be allowed to sail while they undertake the conversion of their gear.
BFAR Ilocos granted licenses to 40 CFVs using Danish seine in 2014, and 28 more in 2015.
Coral reefs, seagrass beds
The seine, also known locally as “buli-buli,” “hulbot-hulbot,” “liba-liba,” “hulahop” and zipper, destroys coral reefs and seagrass beds when it drags through the waters.
“It takes millions of pesos to modify the boat and change the fishing gear. Where will our workers go if we are not allowed to fish?” said Julie Perez, a CFV operator from Pantal village here.
She said each boat had at least 25 workers who rely on fishing for livelihood. She used to own 11 seine-equipped CFVs but she stopped repairing these when the BFAR banned the gear in 2013.
Lilia Yasar, also from Pantal and who operates 11 CFVs, said operators cannot afford to convert all the CFVs at the same time and had asked if the BFAR was willing to be flexible and allow some boats to set sail.
But the agency’s regional director, Nestor Domenden, said the operators had two years from 2013 to convert their gear.
New fishing grounds
To help CFV operators and workers, the government agency will establish “new fishing grounds” for them by setting up 30 “payaw” (artificial reefs) or fish aggregating devices, in the sea, he said.
The BFAR also asked the Department of Social Welfare and Development to provide aid to the workers. “We do not want to be always arresting [fishermen]. We want to help you,” Domenden said. Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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