Puerto Princesa City environment officials are sounding the alarm on rampant lobster fry catching in some barangays, citing possible violations of existing local ordinances that regulate the catching, buying, and selling of local lobster species.
A report published in a government press release stated that lobster fry traps called “muhon” were seen in shallow waters of barangays Mangingisda, Luzviminda, Inagawan, Inagawan-Sub, Kamuning, Concepcion, Bacungan, and other northern coastal barangays. According to the report, the traps were owned by residents who would sell caught lobster fry to buyers.
“The City ENRO Enforcement Division-Bantay Dagat section said that these lobster fingerlings/catcher locally known as muhon were installed within our coastal waters and are operating without necessary permits. These lobster fry/ fingerlings are traded with local buyers, who reportedly sold it at a higher price to buyers coming from other countries,” the presser stated.
Aside from unauthorized catching and selling, the traps were also tied to wooden tripods made of coco lumber, with each piece of lumber measuring 3-4 inches in diameter. City ENRO officials stated that using such kinds of lumber may deplete local lumber resources and damage coastal ecosystems due to their design.
Catching, transporting, possessing, trading, and selling gravid spiny lobsters and juvenile spiny lobsters that have not reached maturity is prohibited under the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Fisheries Administrative Order (FAO) no. 265, unless special permits have been secured. The order adds that lobsters are considered mature if they have reached 5.2-10.7cm, depending on the species.
Likewise, resolution no. 20-750 of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) adopted the FAO so it could be used for local enforcement and regulation.
Lobster fry catching regulations were set by national authorities to protect the local stock of lobster species due to heightened demand in both national and international markets. Indiscriminate and unregulated catching could result to lose in potential yields and thus cripple the local industry, according to the FAO.