TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – The lack of core facilities to fully operate and protect the country’s territory remains a stumbling block for the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Region 02 even with annual apprehensions of foreign poachers.
BFAR – Cagayan Provincial Director Venchito Villarao said such facilities would discourage foreign poachers from entering the Philippine’s exclusive economic zone.
Before the implementation of Republic Act 8550 otherwise known as the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, the front doors of Northern Philippines territorial waters have been made the economic playground of poachers particularly, mainland Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese and even Indonesians.
Former BFAR Region 2 Director Dr. Jovita Ayson shared the same views when she said ‘only modern vessels equipped with technological advancement can contain, if not, minimize such unabated invasion of the poachers to steal our fisheries resouces’.
On August 2018, the patrol team of BFAR R02 and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) apprehended a fishing vessel with seven Vietnamese nationals fishing near Dalupiri Island in Calayan, Cagayan.
The illegal fishers paid the government a compromise fine of P300,000 for violation of some sections of RA 8550. They likewise surrendered their boat to the agency.
Also in June this year, the agency and the Coast Guard intercepted two Vietnamese vessels fishing near the same island in Calayan where reports say the latter’s boats were laden with different species of high-prized fishes estimated at P80,000.
The Vietnamese paid BFAR P650,000 compromise fine and waived ownership of their vessels estimated to be worth millions in pesos three months after charges were filed against them.
BFAR R02 got a total of P950,000 from the Vietnamese poachers and are currently working on the documents needed for the vessel’s registration under the bureau’s name.
Sources said that the confiscated vessels will be converted into a research vessel and a commercial fishing vessel.
BFAR R02 said that they have long been wanting for a good commercial vessel as a replacement for their small scale vessels.
They also added that there is a big need to construct a safe docking area in the waters of Cagayan Valley, most especially in the north.
This will help the agency conduct more patrol operations in the exclusive economic zone to fend off foreign poachers.
As we go to press, Taiwanese nationals are in courts for violations of RA 8550. (Edited by Benjie de Yro)