SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/31 May)—Despite the ban, the illegal liba-liba or Danish seine fishing remains rampant in the waters off Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Dinagat Islands.
Nerio Casil, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the Caraga region or Region 13, said their head office issued the ban on liba-liba fishing last year to stop the continuing destruction of coral reefs, seagrass beds and other marine habitat.
The ban became fully effective last May 3.
He said the liba-liba operators were given six months starting last October to change their fishing gears to safe and sustainable methods.
Liba-liba fishing uses cone-shaped nets with heavy fish herding device attached to a tom weight for hauling to the boat.
The ban is enforced through Fisheries Administrative Order 246 titled “Banning the Operation of Danish Seine and Modified Danish Seine in the Philippines,” which was issued on September 12, 2013.
Based on the order, violators face imprisonment of two to 10 years and a fine of P100,000 to P500,000.
Casil confirmed that there are still liba-liba or hulbot-hulbot fishing activities operating in Surigao del Norte, particularly in Placer, Gigaquit, Claver and Bacuag, including Siargao town and Bucas Grande in Socorro.
Liba-liba fishing also exists in Dinagat town in Dinagat Islands province and Cantilan in Surigao del Sur, he said.
Some residents from the towns of Placer in Surigao del Norte and Cantilan in Surigao del Sur lamented the failure of officials to stop the destructive fishing operations despite the ban that fully took effect last May 3.
“Law enforcers seem to have turned a blind eye on the illegal fishing operations. Sometimes, we are thinking that they are in cahoots with the illegal operators,” said Vilma Ramirez of Cantilan town.
James Abelano, a resident of Placer town, said several liba-liba fishing boats still dock at their port either to sell their catch or to buy blocks of ice.
“This only shows how rampant their operations despite the total ban,” he said. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)