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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Fishermen demand removal of red tape

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MAMBURAO, Occidental Mindoro—Fishermen here have asked the government to cut the red tape on the issuance of registration of fishing vessels by the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) to eliminate illegal fishing of yellow fins in the Mindoro Strait, recognized as the “new tuna highway”, said an industry leader.

“Our fishermen have found a hard time and too much expenses in registering their fishing vessels in Marina, in Batangas City, that some of them  have gone to illegal fishing because of red tape,” said Ernesto Tauro, president of the Yellow-fin Tuna Fishers Association, based in Occidental Mindoro.

The group, all engaged in traditional handline fishing method, represented the towns of Mamburao, Sablayan, Paluan, Santa Cruz, and Rizal in Occidental Mindoro in a forum last January 22 at the Mindorenos Hotel where an agreement was signed by local government officials yellow-fin tuna exporters from the European Union, and the World Wildlife Fund-Phillippines.

Tauro, a 2014 National Gawad Saka Awardee by the Department of Agriculture,  complained that tuna fishermen from his hometown of Sablayan and other localities have “turned to illegal tuna fishing because it’s hard and expensive for us to register our fishing vessels with the Marina.”

He told the forum a fisherman must register his boat with the Marina office in Batangs City for several days, spending P18,000 to P20,000 in registration fees and personal expenses.

Local government units (LGUs)here only allow registration of vessels of up to 300 gross tonnage and Marina takers over at 301 tons or more “because it becomes a commercial fishing vessel.”

Mamburao Mayor Bambi Villarosa said he instructed town agriculturist Sunshine Singun to “do something to eliminate the problem because sustainable tuna production is a flagship livelihood program of the municipal government to address poverty in fishing communities of Mamburao.”

Director Asi Perez, of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, will release P25 million to build the town’s fish landing port, ice plants and other post-harvest facilities to improve the sector’s productivity and income.

Mamburao, as the center of tuna production in Occidental Mindoro is the “primary source of yellow-fins being exported to member-countries of the European Union because it is caught by handlines (kawil), a traditional fishing method being used by local fishermen.”

Jhoann Binondo, WWF-Philippines project manager, said by 2015, the fishery will seek memebrship in the Maritime Stewardship Council and obtain certification in 2017.

“With the MSC ecolabel, the tuna from these handline fisheries can be readily recognized and accessed by (European) consumers,” the WWF said.

In a proposed joint administrative order, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Interior and Local Government, have declared the entire Mindoro Strait and Occidental Mindoro as an “Integrated Tuna Management Area” because it is a “natural pathway of many tuna species.”

Various tuna species, such as yellow fins, big-eye tuna, skipjack, northern bluefin tuna, albacore tuna, long-tail tuna, frigate tuna, bullet tuna, and striped bonito, are harvested in the Mindoro Strait because it is a “corridor linking the West Philippine Sea, Verde Island Passage and the Sulu Sea,” according to the tuna roadmap of Occidental Mindoro.

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