Liba-liba fishing operations continue in Caraga despite ban

CANTILAN, Surigao del Sur (MindaNews / 24 Oct) – Despite the ban on Danish seine fishing, locally known as liba-liba, fishermen are still using the method in the waters of three provinces in the Caraga Region.

This was observed by the townsfolk in Cantilan, Surigao del Sur.

Jun Yparaguirre, who hails from Isla General of this town, said that he sees everyday the operations of the liba-liba.

He said this destructive form of fishing method is still being used not only near their area but also as far as Dinagat and Surigao del Norte.

Some locals consider Cantilan as the hotbed of liba-liba fishing operations in Surigao del Sur if not the entire Caraga Region as a number of boats can be seen docking along the Cantilan River.

Crisologo E. Anino, a leader of the Nagkahiusang Mananagat Para sa Kalambuan Nan Ayoke (NAGMAKAAYO or United Fishermen for the Development of Ayoke, a village in Isla General), said he was happy with the report that there will be a ban on liba-liba but was dismayed to know that the operations continue.

“We thought there would be a raid on these boats but they still are still doing what they do as usual,” he lamented.

Fisheries Administrative Order 246 titled “Banning the Operation of Danish Seine and Modified Danish Seine in Philippine Waters” was issued by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) last Sept. 12 but took effect Oct. 16.

The BFAR defines liba-liba as “an active fishing gear which consists of a conical net with a pair of wings, the ends of which are connected to a rope embedded with buri, plastic strips, sinkers or any similar materials to serve as scaring/herding device and hauled through a mechanical winch or by manpower.”

The practice is banned because “it destroy coral reefs, sea grass beds and other fishery marine habitats,” BFAR noted.

Violators shall be imprisoned from 2 to 10 years and fined from P100,000 to P500,000.

“They must implement the order to stop the continuing destruction,” Anino said.

MindaNews tried to contact several times the BFAR regional office in Surigao City but regional director but Nerio Casil is reportedly on travel in Davao City attending a conference.

MindaNews also tried to contact the PNP-Maritime Office also in Surigao City but its regional director, Edgard Cuanan, is also in Davao for a conference.

Tinty Irreberre, a resident in Cantilan, said that he recalls how they campaigned against the operations of liba-liba fishing in the 1990s.

He said their effort was brought to national attention when a giant television network came to town and made a story on the rampant liba-liba fishing, which he noted remains unabated up to now.