In this photograph furnished by the Palawan Provincial Police Office (PPO), the hoses employed by the detained fishermen for breathing via an air compressor are visible from earlier this morning, August 22. (Photo from the Palawan PPO)

Four fishermen were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday for using a prohibited compressor in fishing activities in the waters near Palabatan Islet, Barangay Caponayan, Cuyo, Palawan.

The individuals who reportedly violated Provincial Ordinance No. 1643, Series of 2015, were identified as Edmar Mata Muaña, aged 37 and a resident of Brgy. Tenga-Tenga, Cuyo; Arjon Magbanua Robes, aged 38; Nielmar Barrios Malacas, aged 29; and Allan Solano Caballero, aged 39. All of them came from different areas within Cuyo.

According to a report from the Palawan Provincial Police Office (PPO), they were apprehended by authorities at 12:48 a.m. on August 22.

Prior to their arrest, the Cuyo Municipal Police Station (MPS) received a phone call at 11 p.m. on August 21, informing them of ongoing illegal fishing activities near the mentioned islet.

Responding immediately, the police station personnel intercepted an unmarked gray motorized banca and caught the suspects red-handed while engaged in illegal fishing. None of them possessed any proper documentation to justify their actions.

Confiscated items from the individuals included the motorized banca with two engine units, approximately 20 kilograms of assorted fresh fish, an air compressor with a tank, plastic hoses, foot paddles, flashlights, diving goggles, and improvised spear guns.

The apprehended violators, as well as the seized air compressor and fishing gear, were placed under the custody of the Cuyo MPS for further legal proceedings.

The use of a compressor in fishing is considered illegal in many municipalities and provinces in the Philippines due to its harmful impact on marine ecosystems and fisheries.

Fishing authorities said when a compressor is employed for fishing, it usually involves a practice known as “compressor diving” or “hookah diving.” This technique involves divers using a compressor to supply them with air underwater through a long hose, allowing them to stay submerged for extended periods while engaging in fishing activities.

Compressor diving can enable fishermen to target and catch marine species more efficiently and in larger quantities. This can lead to overfishing, where fish populations are depleted faster than they can reproduce, disrupting the natural balance of the marine ecosystem.

It is also a method used by unscrupulous fishermen to conduct cyanide fishing, which can cause physical damage to coral reefs and other marine habitats.

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