Unregulated quarrying and employment of illegal fishing methods are happening in Barangay Panacan, Narra in southern Palawan, according to reports of residents in the area to the Palawan NGO Network, Inc. (PNNI).
The environmentally-destructive activities have been going on for two years now without being checked by local authorities and other concerned administrative offices.
In a letter-complaint sent to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), Atty. Robert Chan of the PNNI said residents of Panacan reported that the illegal quarrying operation has no permit from the Bantay Palawan, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) while the illegal fishing problem has apparently not reached the information of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR).
“This scheme comes in the light of the promotion of the Governor’s (Jose Alvarez) Reef-Fish-for-Food project which wrongfully espouses ‘regulation’ rather than a ‘ban’ on the live fish industry,” he said in the letter-complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Palawan News on Wednesday.
The letter was sent to the PCSD on February 21 after PNNI para-enforcers confiscated on February 12 over 4,000 sacks of rocks loaded in a motor launch from the quarry operators.
The rocks will be used for a new form of an illegal fishing method called “Kaskasan”.
Chan said “Kaskasan” is a method that uses hand-sized rocks wrapped in plastic and tied to fishing lines for groupers and other reef fish.
The rocks are used as weights to the lower lines with sparkle baits or chicken feathers to entice reef fish into hooks, leaving the rocks to break corals and the plastics to pollute the ocean floor.
The sacks of rocks were ready for shipment to small outriggers operating all over the southern coral reefs of Palawan.
The quarry operators had two expired delivery receipts and alleged quarry permits from the provincial government under the name of a certain Corazon Escobar of Batang-Batang and Mercedes Romena of Teresa, Narra.
He added that PCSD Administrative Order No. 5 and its amendment in PCSD Administrative Order No.17-587 is therefore considered ‘inutile’ when the administrative agencies “earnestly process applications for the live fish trade but spend minuscule effort in monitoring and enforcing the same.”
Chan added that illegal actions will result in the possible destruction of coral reefs.
Illegal fishing, he said is prohibited under Republic Act 8850 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, the act that provides for the development, management, and conservation of the fisheries and aquatic resources.
After an investigation, the PNNI requested for a list of the names of enforcers and supervisors who should be held accountable to what happened, he said.
Chan also requested the black-listing of the two quarry permit holders involved in the illegal act.