Officials conduct a pre-test on dry-docked fishing vessels. (Photo courtesy of PCSDS)

The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) told fishing boat owners and operators in Sitio Quimson, Barangay Bagong Sikat in Puerto Princesa not to let children wander freely around dry-docked boats so they will not be held liable under the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act.

During a surprise inspection, some operators and owners were also found to not be compliant with Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) policies, according to a presser by the PCSDS released Tuesday.

This was part of a pre-test done by the PCSDS on September 3 as part of its commitment with humanitarian organization Plan International to stop labor exploitation in fishing vessels by doing surprise inspections.

During the pre-test, some operators or owners of fishing vessels docked were found to have violated Republic Act 7610, or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act. This was because children were found to be roaming around the dry-docked boats, which put them in danger.

However, because it was a common practice to let children play among dry-docked boats, the PCSDS warned the boat owners and operators instead to comply to avoid legal action. They were also told to follow MARINA and PCG policies.

Plan International is a humanitarian organization that focuses on advancing children’s rights. The PCSDS is a partner in the four-year SAFE Seas (Safeguarding Against and Addressing Fishers’ Exploitation at Sea) Project. The project also partnered with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), PCG, the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).