PILAR, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/27 May) — Anglers have blamed pamo fishing in the islands for the decline in the population of fish that sport fishers typically catch.
Pamo is a type of net used by hundreds of fisherman in the island to get bangsi or flying fish, which is said to be the main food of sailfish.
During the 5th International Game Fishing Tournament held in Pilar last month, anglers noted a dip in their catch.
They blamed the lesser yield on overfishing not only of flying fish but also of the sailfish species locally known as liplipan.
Some sports fishing enthusiasts and local officials expressed concern on pamo fishing as having reportedly disrupted the food chain in the marine environment.
Voltaire Esparrago, a consistent winner in the past International Game Fishing Tournaments held in this town did not join this year’s competitions because of the dwindling number of sailfish, barracuda, tuna, and other fish species.
He said that overfishing and illegal fishing methods have reduced the local population of flying fish, making the bigger fish species migrate to areas where food is available.
Pilar mayor Lucio Gonzales told MindaNews that pamo fishing in his area is considered illegal because it would affect not only local fishermen who rely on catching sailfish but also tourism.
Pilar is a favorite spot for local and foreign anglers.
Gonzales said several tournaments were held every year by fishing organizations in the country whose members include the fishing magnates and moneyed individuals.
He admitted that the catch by anglers had decreased compared to the previous years.
“Yes, it’s alarming because my constituents mostly rely on fish, and second, this sports that we have been promoting as well will be affected,” the mayor said.
Gonzales also said that fewer local and foreign anglers had been participating in the international game fishing competitions held in the island for the last five years.
He said that while he was able to stop pamo fishermen in his town, he has problems with fishermen from other towns like General Luna.
He said that in General Luna there are over 100 pamo fishing boats, each equipped with a 100-meter pamo net. “Can you imagine how many fish they get in just one night of operation?”
But “Gerry”, a pamo fisherman, said that their method is not illegal.
“Dili man mi illegal, nganong pahunongon man kami nila?” (We are not illegal, why would they want us to stop?)
Gerry said authorities should instead run after dynamite fishers who still operate in the island. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)