Fishing boat operators declare ‘fishing holiday’

Published March 3, 2021, 1:22 PM

by Nonoy Lacson

ZAMBOANGA CITY – Fishing companies operating in southern Luzon, Western and Central Visayas and the Southern Philippines (SoPhil) Fishing Association Incorporated have banded together in declaring a “fishing holiday” on Monday, March 1.

SoPhil President Jaydrick Yap said the move was a gesture of protest to the refusal of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to issue them permits to operate their fishing vessels.

At present there are about 120 commercial fishing vessels operating in this city, 70 of which have yet to be given renewal of their license to operate.

“if we do not have that permit and we will be caught fishing by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), BFAR will fine us ranging from P500,000 up to P5 Million per vessel,” said Yap.

Among those that stopped operating are the Panay Fishing Boat Operators Association, Samahanng Buong Mangingisda sa Navotas Inc, Quezon Marinduque fishing boat operators and Fisherman’s Association, United Bicol Fishing Federation Inc., and the Bisayas Alliance of Fisherfolks & Operators for reform Inc (BAFOR).

The move was also joined by big fishing companies operating in Western Visayas, Iloilo province and three other provinces in the Panay island, Central Visayas Cebu and Bohol, in Luzon Bicol and Quezon province and small commercial boats in Navotas.

According to Yap the legal affairs of BFAR issued the directive on Jan 27, 2021, ordering all BFAR regional offices nationwide not to issue a permit to fishing companies with high tech fish-catching vessels without a satellite positioning vessel monitoring system (VMS).

Most of the affected fishing companies are engaged in the making of sardines. Statistics show that about 85 percent of the sardines supplies comes from Zamboanga City.

Whil Agriculture Secretary William Dar has issued a verbal directive to BFAR ordering “BFAR to extend the renewal of permit” to fishing companies, Yap said the directive should be in written form.

“I asked Sec Dar to order BFAR to release us our permits the soonest possible time in order for us to immediately resume our operations,” Yap said.