MANILA — Twenty local government units have been warned by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for their failure to regulate commercial fishing in their localities last year, the agency said Saturday.
The DILG, in partnership with environmental group Oceana Philippines, said they were able to detect illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUUF) in these places through satellite technology.
The basis of the warning issued by the agency were the number of violations allegedly committed under the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, such as the commercial vessels' use of "super light" or artificial light to attract fish during nighttime and their "intrusion and encroachment" in municipal waters that remain unreported.
Using such artificial light sources for fishing is prohibited under the law.
"Despite the pandemic, we want to remind LGUs of the protection of our aquatic resources which, unfortunately, is still an issue in the country.... mahigpit ang ating paalala na pangalagaan ang ating mga karagatan,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año was quoted as saying.
(This is a stern warning to localities to take care of our oceans.)
The municipality of Tongkil in Sulu led the 20 LGUs with 2,549 violations last year, followed by Zamboanga City with 2,446, and Milagros, Masbate with 1,595 violations.
The other municipalities that were issued the warning are the following:
- Cawayan, Masbate
- San Pascual, Masbate
- Languyan, Tawi-tawi
- Calauag, Quezon with
- Hadji Mohammad Ajul, Basilan
- Linapacan, Palawan
- Carles, Iloilo
- Cuyo, Palawan
- Santa Cruz, Marinduque
- Madridejos, Cebu
- Coron, Palawan
- San Jose, Occidental Mindoro
- Taytay, Palawan
- Magsaysay, Palawan
- Catbalogan City, Samar
- Cavite City, Cavite
- Quezon, Quezon
The statement added that based on their Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) technology boat detection report last year, there has been a surge of commercial fishing in municipal waters despite the health crisis.
Año reiterated that monitoring these activities is "related and crucial" to the country's food security.
“IUUF can cause a serious decline in fisheries resources, and can negatively impact food security and livelihoods for coastal communities and fisherfolk kaya napakahalagang tutukan ito ng mga LGU,” he said.
The value of illegally caught fish in Philippine waters is estimated to be at P63-billion a year, as reported recently by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).