Illegal fishing decimates Cebu's marine resources
Cebu City (13 September) -- Cebu's marine resources are dwindling threatening food security for the province's growing population as incidence of illegal fishing continues to be a coastal issue.
Bureau of Food and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-7) Aquaculturist II Nathaniel Lucero admitted that illegal fishing where dynamites are used to catch fish still exists in Cebu and Central Visayas in general.
"Using dynamites which destroy the marine environment and kill other marine resources ensue and this in the long run will threaten food supply from the sea," Lucero said.
Lucero however, could not give an exact data on the status of Cebu's marine resources except that marine food supply is not sufficient to meet the province's increasing populace.
Cebu's coastal issues and concerns were discussed during a recent PIA Kapihan that highlighted the month of September as Coastal Protection Month.
Just two weeks ago, a fisherman in Daan Banatayan was killed due to blast fishing while his father, also a fisherman, almost severed his arm when the explosive they used exploded before it reached the sea.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-7) Coastal and Marine Management Division Chief Edmondo Arregadas in the same forum declared apart from illegal fishing, another coastal problem in Cebu is pollution of the sea.
"People seem unconcern of the effect of throwing garbage to the sea," Arregadas lamented.
Indiscriminate throwing of waste into the sea causes pollution which is bad for the marine habitat, Arregada added.
Arregada also said that the most dangerous illgal fishing is not the use of dynamites but cyanide. "When one uses dynamites, the explosion at sea can be seen and reported so that action can be taken and violators are pursued. But in the case of cyanide, there is no explosion as the poison is silently being put into the sea," Arregada declared.
Naval Forces Central Deputy Commander Capt. Jose Renan Suarez on the other hand, stressed that coastal law enforcement is not the answer to illegal fishing.
"Aggressive education and information drive among fishermen in coastal villages must be done to arrest illegal fishing so that they would understand the negative effects of using explosives," Suarez emphasized.
The Navy, Philippine CoastGuard and the police are here to support the BFAR-7 in law enforcement against illegal fishers but that law enforcement alone will not stop illegal fishing, Suarez said.
"Apart from educating fisherfolks, there must be an alternative livelihood that must be provided so that they can have other source of income," Suarez further said.
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) District 7 Chief of Staff of the Public Information Office Capt. Anecito Gabisan said that they are always ready to support in the area of coastal law enforcement but that local government units (LGUs) should have the political will to pursue illegal fishers.
Gabisan said there are times when an illegal fisher is apprehended in a certain municipality or city, prosecution of the case does not prosper because the LGU concerned do not file a case.
"Most probably they know the violator as a political supporter and that apprehension would mean losing some votes," Gabisan surmised.
Police Regional Office (PRO-7) Police Community Relations Division Chief S/Supt. Anthony Obenza agreed that political will is very crucial in addressing the problem of illegal fishing.
Obenza said that despite aggressive coastal law enforcement, the problem of illegal fishing will not be solved if there is no support and action from the local government units.
Cebu Provincial Legal Attorney Marino Martinquilla said he would suggest to Gov. Gwen Garcia the proposal to come up with a body headed by the provincial government that would address coastal issues and concerns. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]