PH eyes helicopters, drones vs illegal fishers


Posted at May 04 2017 01:19 PM

China Coast Guard vessels patrol past Philippine fishing boats at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, April 5, 2017. Erik De Castro, Reuters/File

MANILA - The Department of Agriculture is eyeing the purchase of 2 patrol helicopters to boost the government's campaign against illegal fishing and poaching by foreign fishing boats.

Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the country loses at least $30 billion every year to foreign poachers whose activities could not be curbed due to the government's incapability to patrol its fishing grounds. 

"Currently, the BFAR (Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources) only relies on reports by local fishermen and its ability to respond is impeded by its lack of sea and air assets," Piñol said in a Facebook post. 

He said the department has included the proposal to acquire helicopters and drones in its proposed funding for 2018, which was recently presented to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno. 

Piñol said BFAR directors were also ordered to submit to President Duterte a list of town mayors who have failed to stop illegal fishing in their respective areas. 
"The [department] will recommend the filing of administrative charges and even the suspension of mayors who have continuously ignored the directive of the President to stop illegal fishing in their areas," he said.