Stronger law enforcement are needed to achieve sustainable fisheries and seafood self-sufficiency in the Philippines, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources National Director Eduardo Gongona said.
Relatedly, the Angono, Rizal chapter of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Tuesday lamented that dumping waste and the landfill in the Angono part of Laguna de Bay are still ongoing even after dialogue with the Laguna Lake Development Authority and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“We have to maintain and protect our traditional fishing grounds. If we properly enforce our fisheries law, then we will have enough fish. We need action, and we need to do it now,” Gongona said.
Lax enforcement resulted in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, he said.
Oceana Philippines vice president Atty. Gloria Ramos noted that at present, 56 percent of Filipinos’ animal protein comes from fish and 93 percent of fish caught in the country are consumed domestically.
“Fish is not only a vital food source, it also provides livelihood for millions of Filipinos. For a country that is dependent on the seas for sustenance and livelihood, we certainly need to be more vigilant in protecting our marine resources,” Ramos said.
At present, the Philippines ranks 11th in the world as a source of seafood, but destructive fishing practices caused a rapid decline of fish supply in the country.
“Strengthened law enforcement and sustainable fisheries management also protects the spawning ground of fish. If our fisheries were given time and protection to recover, they would ensure seafood security and result in increased incomes for marginalized fisherfolk, who are the country’s poorest of the poor, and our coastal residents whose lives, income and culture are tied to our oceans,” Ramos said.
Eaarlier, the government apprehended two fishing boats in Hagnaya Port, San Remegio in the northern part of Tañon Strait, which contained 19 thresher sharks and 70 buckets of fish believed to be caught using dynamite.
Tañon Strait is a narrow body of water between Negros and Cebu islands, and is the largest marine protected area in the Philippines.
Ramos said the recent apprehension is a strong indication of strengthened enforcement to deter illegal fishing in Tañon Strait.
“With the apprehension of the vessels, we expect a case to be filed soon against the owner and the crew. The illegal fishing not only violates our fisheries and conservation laws, but also the Cebu Provincial Ordinance protecting all shark species in the province,” she said.
Ramos said the protection of thresher sharks has gained global support as parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora voted in favor of listing these species in Appendix II, controlling their trade to ensure their survival.
“We are glad to note that the various national agencies are coordinating in the enforcement of fisheries and environmental laws, and exhibit strong resolve in apprehending plunderers of our oceans. This joint endeavor must be sustained, to restore fisheries abundance, and ensure the protection and conservation of our fisheries and natural resources and of course, the livelihoods of our people,” she said.
Angono’s zero squatter program consistently reclaims some of its coastal areas using landfill combinations of toxic industrial, domestic and bio-hazard wastes. The Kalayaan Angono Dream Neighborhood Association or KANDRENAI in its Barangay Kalayaan is a five-hectare urban poor community of almost 300 families.
It was once a portion of the 90-thousand hectare Laguna de Bay but during the 90s, the local government started dumping wastes and land onto the water and that part later on became a housing project.
“Contrary to LLDA’s statement during our dialogue last week, dumping of wastes and land in Laguna de Bay continues. Reclamation of Laguna de Bay using various wastes pollutes the lake even more and destroys the fishing grounds and the environment,” Avelina Anie, member of Pamalakaya in Angono, Rizal.
Every day, the residents inhale the unpleasant smell that the lake emits. It gravely affects the health of the residents especially the children.