Blast fishing rampant in 5 Surigao towns

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/21 July) — Five towns in Surigao del Norte are under tight watch by the Philippine National Police Maritime Office Caraga for alleged rampant dynamite fishing.

Edgard Cuanan, regional director of PNP Maritime Caraga named the five towns as Tagana-an, Placer, Claver, Socorro and General Luna.

Cuanan admitted they cannot eradicate illegal fishing activities in these areas. “We cannot totally eradicate the illegal fishing activities in these areas,” he told MindaNews.

He appealed to concerned citizens to report to them the persons involved in the illegal activity.

Aside from dynamite fishing, Cuanan said cyanide fishing is also rampant in General Luna town. The town is world famous for its surfing sites.

He said government is seriously helping the fisherfolk through the Payao program of the government.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) launched in early March the nationwide deployment of fish aggregating devices or payaos for small fishermen operating within the country’s municipal fishing areas.

Asis Perez, BFAR national director, said the initiative is part of ongoing efforts to provide more stable livelihood opportunities for the municipal fishing sector and at the same time help protect and preserve the country’s fishing areas and resources.

“We’re engaging directly with the small fishermen, providing them with the necessary inputs and gears so they could benefit more from our rich fishery resources,” he said.

Cuanan hopes that with Payao, the fisherfolk would stop their illegal activities.

Cuanan also said they will increase seaborne patrol operations to preempt and apprehend violators engaging in all form of illegal activities.

“We shall intensify and extend the area of operation from seawaters of Surigao Norte to Surigao Del Sur particularly at municipal seawaters of Cantillan, Carrascal, Lanuza, Cortes and Barobo utilizing PFB-225  and beef up intelligence monitoring operation to determine violations in every municipalities and identify their modus operandi and area of operation,” he told MindaNews.

General Luna Mayor Jaime P. Rusillon said the campaign against illegal fishing has been one of his advocacies since he became mayor in the 1980s.

He said fisherfolk from other towns are illegally fishing in his area.

Socorro town mayor Denia Florano said she is worried about the presence of illegal fishing activities in her town.

She said they are looking for ways to stop the practice.

Cuanan’s office ranked first among the regional office in terms of accomplishments for the implementation of Republic Act 8550 or the Fisheries Code of the Philippines.

He said this achievement was announced by the Management Division for Operations during their Command Conference last July 4 and 5 in Camp Crame Manila.

Chief Supt. Henry P. Losanes, acting director of  the Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime had recognized the efforts of the regional offices.

Since January this year, Cuanan’s office has made several arrests against all forms of illegal fishing.

This includes 85 preventive operations resulting to 29 apprehensions and the arrest of 127 persons.

Cuanan said 29 fishing boats and fishing paraphernalia and 560 kilos of assorted fish with an estimated value of 3.9 million were intercepted and will face charges for allegedly violating  the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998. (Roel Catoto / MindaNews)