Alarm raised as illegal fishers enter Siargao waters
DEL CARMEN, Siargao Island, Philippines — Alarmed by the resurgence of commercial trawling activities here, local officials and nongovernment organizations are calling for the national government’s support in the fight against illegal fishing.
Mayor Alfredo Coro II said his town would need the backing of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the maritime unit of the Philippine National Police to stop commercial trawlers from encroaching into municipal waters.
“Illegal fishers in our municipal waters are armed and dangerous. [Stopping them] is already beyond the capacity of the … local government and our Bantay Dagat (sea patrol) team,” Coro said.
“We are requesting support from national government agencies to help us curb illegal commercial fishing activities now [monitored] in the area of Halian Island since the past local government operations against ‘liba-liba’ resulted in armed confrontations,” he added.
Lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice president of Oceana Philippines, said commercial fishing operators had been emboldened by their knowledge that the government lacked vessels and monitoring systems to track them.
“We call on law enforcement agencies to intensify their efforts to arrest and file cases against these illegal fishing operators since they have the mandate and assets to do so,” Ramos said.