Capitol to purchase patrol boats

The Cebu Provincial Government plans to purchase two patrol boats to power up its anti-illegal fishing campaign.

Governor Hilario P. Davide III also asked the fisher folk to help enforce the fisheries code by fulfilling their duties as Bantay Dagat.Their help will eventually plow back to their own benefit, said Gov. Davide, in a farmers and fisher folk forum on the occasion of Ocean Month celebration last May 26.

Atty. Czareem Joseph Estella, Officer-in-Charge of the Provincial Environmental and Natural Resources, said the Capitol is planning to buy two patrol boats for the north and south. He said the Capitol is also verifying the availability of unused patrol boats held by the local government units.

Estella added he will sponsor the training of fish examiners, who will determine whether the fishes are caught out of blast fishing.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) 7 Director Andres Bojos said the Bantay Dagat should report what’s happening on the ground so they can take action.

Bojos lamented that they have been training Bantay Dagat members since the time of Governor Osmundo Rama in the 1970s.However, illegal fishing continues to exist with the exception of some local government units.

Compostela Municipal Agriculturist Nestor Campaner suggested for the fish wardens to also be given cash incentives by the province.He said they are also volunteers like the barangay workers, who are now receiving annual incentives from the Capitol.Campaner said the incentives will encourage the fish wardens to perform their responsibilities.

Estella said the matter has already been discussed with the governor. Environmental Lawyer Antonio A. Oposa is also said to have recommended it to the governor in connection with their initiative to recognize the “champions of the sea.”However, it may be a merit-based reward system, said Estella.

For the farmers, the Capitol is considering a cash-for-work program as one way to spend the Php 36 million calamity fund.A water storage facility or little dams could also be constructed.

Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office Chief Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. said the dams could be used for tilapia fishing.“So this is one strategy to provide emergency cash transfer and at the same time offer a long term solution,” Tribunalo added.

So far, eight towns have declared a state of calamity after experiencing low rainfall and diminishing water resources.The Cebu Province was subsequently placed under a state of calamity last May 25.