Local executives in Palawan welcomed the partnership between Oceana, the world’s largest international marine advocacy organization, and the League of Municipalities in the Philippines (LMP) to fight, deter, and stop illegal fishing in municipal waters nationwide.
Narra mayor Lucena Demaala, who is also the president of the LMP in Palawan, said Monday they appreciate the move of Oceana to fight illegal fishing activities.
Demaala called on other municipalities in the province to support and strengthen the partnership programs to prevent overfishing within their jurisdiction.
“Syempre, we are in favor with the move of Oceana and thankful tayo they are are able to locate itong mga commercial fishing boats. Sa ating mga kasamahan sa mga munisipyo, we should support this advocacy lalo na ang may mga presence ng [maraming] fishing boats,” the mayor said.
Earlier, Oceana released its list of 2018 Top 10 Illegal Fishing Hotspots nationwide based on the frequency of illegal fishing activities at night time in municipal waters.
Included in the list are Palawan four towns — Cuyo, Linapacan, Araceli, and Magsaysay.
Cuyo mayor Andrew Ong, however, claimed that the inclusion of his town in the list is “baseless”.
“Mahigpit tayo pagdating d’yan, kung may mangingisda man binibigyan ‘yan ng permit ng munisipyo. Napakarami ng isda sa Cuyo, alam niyo naman ‘yan kaya ayaw natin sa illegal na pangingisda,” he said.
In a statement sent to Palawan News on Thursday, Oceana pointed out that they are using analyzed data from satellite sensor called Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) to detect commercial fishing vessels which have been banned in municipal waters.
Commercial fishing is banned in municipal waters under the Fisheries Code, which was amended in 2015. Stringent measures were placed as part of the amendment to fight illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
Under the code, monitoring technology for all commercial fishing vessels from 3.1 gross tonnages and beyond shall be implemented, the organization said.
The Department on Interior and Local Government in April 2018 issued guidelines to all coastal cities and municipalities, to regulate and monitor all fisheries activities under its jurisdiction.
Aside from the partnership, Oceana also launched the online reporting, “Karagatan Patrol Facebook Group” to encourage citizens to report illegal fishing activities in their localities.
Oceana in the Philippines aids government in analyzing data from VIIRS through satellite detection in a supposedly dark environment such as large bodies of water. The tool detects all vessels using artificial light sources or super lights.
These lights are likely used by fishing boats such as purse seiners and ring netters, which are found inside the prohibited area in municipal waters.
“We welcome this highly significant collaboration with the LMP to bring back fisheries abundance in our waters. It is timely as our oceans are buffeted by simultaneous pressures from humanity, aggravating and aggravated by the destructive impacts of the climate crisis we all face. We need to work together closely, now, more than ever, and manage sustainably our fisheries, to protect our oceans and feed our people,” Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice president of Oceana in the Philippines, said.
The international NGO also assured that they will relay the information to the appropriate agencies and monitor the actions taken.