DAVAO CITY – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Region 11 (BFAR-11) has strengthened its fisheries monitoring control surveillance (MCS) through conducting regular sea patrol operations in the region.
In a statement issued on Thursday, it said BFAR-11 along with the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime Group will conduct sea patrol operations to fight the illegal fishing activities of commercial fishing boats within municipal waters.
Under Republic Act 10654, or the Amended Fisheries Code, municipal waters are areas covered within 15 km from the coastline, including offshore islands. Only fishing boats — weighing less than 3.1 gross tons which use non-destructive, passive gears such as hook and line, and gill nets — are allowed to fish within municipal waters.
BFAR-11 Provincial Fishery Officer Jefferson Montera said they are not only limiting the operation around Davao Gulf, but they have also included those fishing vessels, who originally operated in Davao Gulf and transferred in Pujada Bay and Mayo Bay in Mati City, Davao Oriental.
“This operation is being mandated by the national authority. It is a program of BFAR-11 making sure that we have safe and affordable fish commodities. It is also our help to the fishermen who were greatly affected by the pandemic,” he said.
Montera assured fisherfolk especially those who will be caught doing illegal fishing that they can approach BFAR and their respective local government units (LGU) specifically the City Agriculture Office to give them livelihood assistance depending on what they need in fishing.
“If a commercial fishing boat violates the Fisheries Code, it will face an administrative case which will be facilitated by BFAR, and a criminal case that will be filed by the PNP Maritime Group,” he added.
On June 22, BFAR-11 captured two commercial fishing vessels engaged in illegal fishing. They were escorted to PNP Maritime temporary shelter and faced administrative charges.
Montera urged the public to be watchful and report illegal fishing activities to the nearest BFAR Regional Office or LGU. (PNA)