Published June 27, 2020, 12:00 AM
The Philippine Navy’s Naval Forces Central (NFC) seized a total of P1.97 million worth of illegally caught fish from six fishing boats operating in seawaters off Tangalan, Aklan, the military bared on Saturday. Lieutenant Junior Grade Frances Maye Macapinig, CNFC public affairs officer, said the fishing boats were flagged in a joint counter-action seaborne operations by its Naval Intelligence and Security Group (NISG-Central) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-6) last June 24.
Macapinig said 55 fishermen were caught using a bag net, locally known as “basing” which is an “active” fishing gear. It means the fishing gear is dragged through the water via human, animal, or engine power, thus, resulting in higher efficiency compared to a “passive” gear such as gillnets and traps which rely on the movement of fishes for its efficiency. The use of active gear by fishing boats in catching fish in municipal waters, bays, and fishery management areas is prohibited under the Republic Act 10654, the amended Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.
Macapinig said the first fishing boat was spotted while engaging in illegal fishing less than one nautical mile from Tanglan, Aklan. The boat, owned by locals in Barangay Dumatad, had 10 crew onboard and a catch worth P400,000. Another fishing boat, owned by residents of Barangay Jawili, had 10 crew onboard who were also rounded up. Their catch, with an estimated street value of P400,000, was also confiscated. Authorities also caught a boat, operated by locals from Barangay Poblacion, with a 12-man crew and an estimated catch of P350,000.
Further, two fishing boats were consecutively spotted illegally fishing in another part of Tangalan’s municipal waters. The boats were being maneuvered by 12 fishermen from Barangay Dumatad and already loaded with P400,000 worth of catch, Macapinig said.
The last fishing boat was seen at Afga Point, also in Tangalan, with 11 fishermen from Barangay Dumatad. They had an estimated catch of P420,000. Macapinig said the fishermen were charged with violation of Section 95 (Use of Active Gear in Municipal Waters, Bays and Other Fishery Management Areas) of RA 10654.
All the fishing boats, including its paraphernalia, were placed under the custody of BFAR-6 while the crew were arrested. Under the law, the penalties meted against the violators include, whichever is higher, a fine ranging from P20,000 to P500,000; or three times the value of their catch; or a community service “if the offender fails to pay the fine.” The violators also face imprisonment of two to six years.
By Martin Sadongdong: