Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel "Manny" PiAol ordered the immediate creation of the West Philippine Sea Anti-Illegal Fishing Task Force last Wednesday, August 10, after fisherfolk in Zambales told him about the illegal fishing activities in the area.
PiAol instructed Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) national director Eduardo Gongona to lead the task force.
"BFAR welcomes the Secretary's order to protect the country's marine environments. The bureau will utilize its resources to ensure we carry out his directive and enforce Philippine fishing laws," Gongona said.
The Order was given during the fiberglass boat distribution in South Poblacion, Masinloc, where the Agriculture Secretary met with 200 fisherfolk from different municipalities in Zambales.
The fisherfolk told PiAol about the illegal and unsustainable fishing practices, which continue to hound the municipal fisherfolk. Among these are blast fishing and entry of suspected foreign poachers. A group of fisherfolk asked the Secretary "to apply the full force of law" to those who were apprehended. They also requested radio communication apparatus to be set up on their boats so they would be able to report violations to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
In direct response, PiAol urged BFAR 3 Regional Director Wilfredo Cruz, Zambales 2nd District Representative Cheryl Deloso-Montalla, and Masinloc Mayor Arsenia Lim to coordinate with their local constituents and beneficiaries in the enforcement of fishery laws. The Secretary also promised the provision of lawyers to aid in the prosecution of violators.
Moreover, PiAol has also committed to distributing more fiberglass boats to provinces in Central Luzon; training fisherfolk in food processing technology; granting livelihood support during closed fishing seasons; and reviving cold storage facilities in Zambales.
PiAol vowed to return to the province to conduct a stakeholders' meeting with fisherfolk, BFAR's regional officers, and heads of local government units to gather grievances and discuss possible solutions.
Source: Philippine Information Agency