Negrense fishermen urge BFAR, LGUs to strengthen drive vs commercial fishing in municipal waters

BACOLOD CITY, Sept 28 (PNA) — An umbrella organization of small fishermen here is urging the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the local government units (LGUs) to strengthen the campaign and operation against commercial fishing, as it is still rampant in the municipal waters of the province.

Abcede Jardinico, acting chairman of the Negros Occidental Small Fishers Association (NOSFA), said commercial fishing vessel operations, including those of “hulbot-hulbot”, has been greatly affecting the livelihood of small fisherfolk.

“Commercial fishing is the major problem of most small fishers in the province now,” Jardinico said, adding that “we almost have no fish to catch due to the former’s illegal operation.”

He added that, currently, commercial fishing is most rampant in the municipal waters of Hinigaran and Cauayan towns.

Section 18 of the Republic Act 8550, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, states that “all fishery-related activities in municipal waters, as defined in this Code, shall be utilized by municipal fisherfolk and their cooperatives or organizations which are listed as such in the registry of municipal fisherfolk.”

It is provided in this law that no commercial fishing is allowed within the 10.1 to 15-kilometer area from the shoreline in municipal waters, except those small and medium fishing vessel duly authorized by the local government through its local chief executive pursuant to an appropriate ordinance.

Jardinico said association members have been active in helping authorities stop the illegal operation, particularly through serving as witnesses in cases filed against commercial fishing operators.

The group plans to convene with the officials of the BFAR, city, and municipal governments as well as to other concerned agencies to raise the issue.

“We need to strengthen our efforts, and come up with additional initiatives to finally resolve the long overdue problem,” Jardinico said.(PNA)