DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 Oct) – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) will be procuring a 40-foot vessel next year to patrol the region’s more turbulent waters, according to the bureau’s regional director.
In an interview Monday during the launch of BFAR’s Fish Conservation week at its regional office here, Regional Director Fatma Idris told reporters that the 40-foot ship will be made in the Philippines and will cost more than P1 million.
Idris said the BFAR will use the ship to monitor the waters facing the Pacific Ocean, especially during the June to August annual ban on ring nets and bag nets which has been identified by the bureau as the closed season for small pelagic fish.
According to Idris, the fishing ban produced an increase in presence of identified fish species, including yellow fin and other species of tuna.
The agency currently has four patrol boats, with an additional 28-foot vessel patrolling the gulf.
During the closed season, Idris said fishing for small pelagic fish has minimized so much that nearby regions complained of an increase of more commercial fishing vessels, citing Region XII waters as an example.
There has been no confirmed apprehension by the bureau during the test run this year, but it did not mean the agency was not taking action, Idris said.
“When our boats approached theirs, we told them (commercial vessels) to turn off their lights. This means that there will be no catch,” she said. “If their nets are up, bring these down,” she added
Idris said the addition of the bigger boat for the bureau’s small fleet would allow the agency to pursue and apprehend foreign commercial fishing vessels traveling across the Pacific Ocean, within Philippine territorial waters.
This year’s ban on fishing for small pelagic fish, mandated by Joint Administrative Order No. 2, was delayed by more than a month after the agency had to comply with legal requirements such as the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations as well as publication.
However, in an earlier interview with BFAR’s regulatory, licensing and law enforcement division, officer in charge Jose Villanueva said the program was already successful despite the delay.
Villanueva said the JAO contributed to an increased presence of spawns in the gulf.