PH gov’t apprehends illegal fishing vessels in Manila Bay

Published March 24, 2021, 1:20 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)  and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) apprehended three fishing vessels engaged in illegal fishing activities in Manila Bay.

The apprehension, according to BFAR, took place during a joint seaborne operation by its Central Office – Fisheries Protection and Law Enforcement Group (FPLEG) and the PCG on March 17, 2021.

To be specific, the operators and crew of fishing vessels FBca JAMZYRIC, FBca JOSWYNE BROOKES and FBca 5 BROTHERS were caught using trawl fishing gear inside municipal waters.

This is in violation of Section 86 (Unauthorized Fishing) and Section 95 (Use of Active Gears in Municipal Waters, Bays, and Other Fishery Management Areas) of the Republic Act (RA) 8550, as amended by RA 10654.

The fishing vessels were then escorted to El Varadero, Sangley Point, Cavite City for proper documentation and filing of Administrative charges.

“Our efforts to prevent and put a stop to illegal, unreported, and unregulated [IUU] fishing in the Philippine waters remain as one of our top priorities along with securing safe and affordable fish commodities for Filipinos and providing assistance to our fisherfolk especially during these challenging times,” BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona said.  

Upon inventory of catch, around 150 kg of hairtail (Trichiurus lepturus) with an estimated value of P5,000.00, 35 kg of slipmouth (Leiognathus spp.) with an estimated value of P4,000.00, and 35 kg of lizardfish (Saurida spp.) were found onboard.

BFAR’s fishery law enforcement teams continue to patrol and monitor not only Manila Bay but many of the country’s fishing grounds against IUU fishing.

BFAR urges the public to be watchful and report any illegal fishing activities to the nearest BFAR Regional Office or Local Government Unit.

A study released by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on March 9 showed that up to 40 percent of the fish caught and distributed in the Philippines in 2019 came from IUU fishing.  

According to the report, illegal fishing amounted to 27 to 40 percent of fish caught in 2019 in the Philippines, which translates to approximately P62 billion (US$1.3 billion) in value annually.  

Moreover, at least 30,000 or 30 percent of municipal vessels remain unregistered, and commercial fishers do not report up to 422,000 metric tons of fish each year.

IUU fishing ranges from small-scale, unlawful domestic fishing to more complex operations carried out by industrial fishing fleets. It is by nature complex and clandestine, which means data are hard to come by and substantiate.