Cebu Governor Hilario P. Davide III tapped 2,000 fisher folks in Bantayan Island to help stop illegal fishing in the Visayan Sea.
Davide said he wanted the people of Bantayan themselves to be vigilant in protecting their municipal waters.
The governor talked to the fisher folks after the Visayan Sea Summit held at Sea Camp, Barangay Okoy in Santa Fe town on Monday, April 21.
All of them were members of the Back to Sea project of the Damgo sa Kaugmaon Foundation Incorporated, a local non-government organization (NGO) in Bantayan. Each member of the NGO received banca repair assistance from the organization.
This group of fishermen came from 21 barangays spread out over the towns of Santa Fe, Bantayan, and Madridejos.
Damgo President Allan Monreal said every member of the foundation is expected to participate in the anti-illegal fishing campaign of the Capitol.
Capitol Chief of Security Loy Anthony Madrigal said the fisher folk will serve as the eyes and ears of the Cebu Provincial Anti-Illegal Fishing Task Force.
Eupinio Bautro, vice chair of the Back to Sea fishermen’s association assured the governor of their cooperation.
The fishermen’s main concern is the persistent commercial fishing within the municipal waters. The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 defines it as the 15 kilometers stretch from the shoreline.
The fishermen also lamented the continuous use of destructive fishing methods like zipper fishing method or hulbot-hulbot. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources already banned this method. Hulbot-hulbot uses fine nets to encircle and scrapes everything underneath the sea including the corals.
Bautro suggested to Madrigal to no longer use their patrol boat during their operations to avoid early detection.
“Akong ikatambag kanila nga moduol sila namo ug kami nay bahalang mopahulam sa among mga pumpboat para sa ilang operations,” he said.
Madrigal admitted that even before he could step out of the Capitol, some people already tipped the commercial fishing operators about the task force’s operations. He said, “If they want play games we play games too.”
The governor was in Barangay Okoy, Santa Fe last week to attend the sixth Visayan Sea Summit held at Sea Camp area. Gov. Alfredo Marañon, the brain behind the summit, also attended the activity.
Governors Arthur Defensor (Iloilo) and Rizalinda Seachon-Lanete (Masbate) were not around but sent representatives.
The Bantayan Island water is part of the Visayan Sea, which is claimed to be the richest marine biodiversity in the world.