Commercial fishing operators seek amendment on prov’l fisheries code

IMG_6980Some commercial fishing operators in the province of Cebu are asking the provincial government to amend the Cebu Provincial Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Code.

“It is anti-commercial fishing,” said Patrick Topalla, auditor of the Bisaya Alliance of Fisher folks and Operators for Reforms (BAFOR) in a meeting with Governor Hilario P. Davide III.

Topalla said it is impossible for an individual fisher folk to meet the demand of the consumers knowing the demography of the province.As result, he added, there would be an imminent increase of sea products in the province.

Gov. Davide told the group to put their objections into writing. Though he is open to negotiate on the amendment of the ordinance, he cautioned them to respect what law is disallowing.

The ordinance, which was enacted two years ago, during the past administration, provides heavier penalty.It also prohibits tcommercial fishing operators to operate within 10.1 to 15 kilometer area from the shoreline. The law identifies this as part of municipal waters.

Republic Act 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, however, does not make the prohibition in the area absolute. The local government units were given the discretion to issue permits for the small and medium commercial fishing vessels to operate within the said portion of municipal waters.

Under Cebu Provincial Ordinance 2012-05, the fine is computed based on the paraphernalia on the spot. Thus, if they use boxes as fish container, the fine would be P5 thousand multiplied by the number of boxes.

Topalla said they were not given the chance to voice their objection against the ordinance because they were not invited during its public hearing.

The group admitted that their common violation is the prohibition on the municipal waters. They reasoned that they couldn’t avoid drifting into the prohibited area because of the sea current and it takes time for them to haul their fish nets.

On the issue whether they use prohibited fishing gears and explosives, the operators denied. Though, they confessed that there are operators using such fishing equipment especially in the northern tip of Cebu. Xerxes Alkuino