CEBU CITY – The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Central Visayas, through its Adjudication Committee, has collected more than P1.72 million in settlement fines from its seaborne patrol apprehensions in Central Visayas from January to August this year.
BFAR-7 regional director Dr, Allan Poquita, in a virtual press conference on September 15, said the collected fines were from cases filed by BFAR-7, including those from other law enforcement units that assisted them during sea patrols.
“We have to protect and preserve our seas and oceans because this is where our food security lies, and this is also the source of livelihood of our fishermen. We see its importance in times of crises because we continue to deliver food essentials such as fish and other sea products,” Poquita said.
He added that people must learn to conserve the fisheries and aquatic resources in the region and to follow the rules and policies on fishery-related laws. Poquita urged the people to apply in their day-to-day activities the cause or advocacy that the bureau wants to be practiced by all individuals, be it an ordinary citizen or the highest ranking official.
According to Atty. Lauris Labasan, BFAR-7 legal officer, the bureau collected nearly P2 million fines from fishing boat operators for violating certain fishery laws. Under the law, the settlement fines are accrued to the Fisheries Management Fund (FMF) which is used to enhance the budget for conservation, preservation, protection, management, development, and regulation of the fishery and aquatic resources.
Labasan added that the fund is also used to subsidize research and development and capability building of the various stakeholders including provision for scholarships for those interested in fishery-related courses.
Labasan thanked the Philippine National Police – Regional Maritime Unit (PNP-RMU) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for actively holding seaborne patrol operations to ensure that the region’s waters are safeguarded from illegal fishing activities.
From the joint operations and individual efforts of BFAR-7, Josefina Flores, chief of the Fisheries Management, Regulatory and Enforcement Division, said that the bureau has apprehended nine fishing boat operators this year. Of the nine apprehensions, 25 administrative and criminal cases were filed by authorities that included violations on encroachment of commercial fishing operators in municipal waters and the use of illegal fishing gears.
Flores admitted that the problem of illegal fishing has been a longtime issue despite the penalties imposed on violators. The annual “Fish Conservation Week” observance encourages people to learn the value of marine conservation and lifetime commitment of everyone for food sustainability and security.
In the same event, Crejay Lacena, chief of the Fisheries Resource Management Section, said that it takes the whole government approach to curb illegal fishing since stringent measures on fishery laws are already in place. Resolving the issue also lies in the implementation or enforcement of existing laws and the people’s cooperation.