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Green lawyer heads BFAR, vows to wage war vs illegal fishers

/ 08:40 PM May 23, 2011

LUCENA CITY—The newly appointed director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has vowed to combat destructive fishing methods and the continuous intrusion of commercial fishers into municipal waters all over the country.

Asis Perez, an environmental lawyer from Tiaong town in Quezon, took his oath of office before Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in Manila on Monday morning and will assume office on June 1.

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Perez will replace Gil Adora, BFAR officer in charge who succeeded Malcolm Sarmiento, who retired last month.

“Commercial fishers have permits and licenses issued by the BFAR. We will strictly monitor that the rules surrounding their fishing activities are being followed,” Perez said in a phone interview after being sworn in.

A former executive director of Tanggol Kalikasan (Defense of Nature), a public interest environmental law office, Perez won the 2010 Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award. He is the in-country representative of the US Department of the Interior, but will relinquish the post once he takes over the bureau.

Perez also earned the recognition of the Species Survival Network (SSN), a global coalition of 82 organizations from more than 30 countries as “true protectors of wildlife resources.”

As BFAR head, Perez’s top priority will be the strict implementation of fishery laws to protect the country’s remaining marine resources.

The agency “is quite small to meet the task at hand,” he said. To meet the demands of his office, he said he would work to strengthen the capacity of its workers.

The BFAR, which is under the Department of Agriculture, is responsible for the development, improvement, management and conservation of the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources. It was reconstituted as a line bureau by virtue of Republic Act No. 8550 (Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998).

The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) has charged that RA 8550 failed to protect the livelihood of fishermen and the marine environment.

It has assailed the blatant intrusion of commercial fishing vessels into the 15-kilometer municipal waters which are reserved for small fishermen. Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon

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TAGS: Environmental Issues, Fishing, Fishing industry
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