Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) director Eduardo Gongona said Filipino fishermen should not be afraid to venture to the West Philippine Sea (WPS) to fish as it is the country’s “traditional fishing ground”.
Speaking during the 1st Calamianes Law Enforcement Summit in Coron last week, Gongona said BFAR, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the Philippine Navy (PN) are there to take care of them and their fishing vessels.
Gongona said the only thing Pinoy fishermen should do is to inform these government agencies about the dates of their fishing sojourns in the disputed area so that aid can be sent whenever it is required.
“Dapat hindi tayo natatakot mangisda d’yan dahil traditional fishing ground natin ýan. I-swarm natin sila, huwag natin ipakita na takot tayo mangisda dyan, traditional fishing ground natin ýan. Ang kailangan lang is to take care of the fishing body and the fishing vessel. ‘Yon ang ma-i-contribute ng ating gobyerno through our agencies BFAR, coast guard, navy and the others,” he said.
Gongona said BFAR has a vessel monitoring system (VMS) and vessel monitoring measures (VMM) for easy communication with the fishermen and to advise them whether there will be any danger, such as storms that could enter the country.
“Meron tayong vessel monitoring system at vessel monitoring measures, lahat sila ay bibigyan ng transponder automatic identification system para naman namo-monitor natin kung nasaan sila at ma-advise ‘yong easy communication system, ma-advise natin kung meron talagang danger, kung may bagyo na darating. They should not be afraid to fish in the WPS kasi traditional fishing ground natin ýan,” he stated.
Gongona said the Philippines still has many fishing grounds aside from the WPS. These are the northern, eastern, southern and central seas, which have equal volumes of fish.
He encouraged the fishermen to go to these fishing areas to have more income for their families.
“Depende na sa kanila kung nasaan ang isda, puntahan nila, kung maraming isda ang West Philippine Sea, puntahan nila, kung sa inner seas, puntahan nila. Ang importante makuha natin lahat ng isda para mag-generate ng income at saka employment,” he said.
He said the transponders they will provide costs P5,000 and will be initially given before the year ends to large commercial fishing vessels that travel long distances.