Blast fishing in the Philippines. Photo: Greenpeace

By Roel Catoto
21 July 2013

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews) – Five towns in Surigao del Norte are under tight watch by the Philippine National Police Maritime Office Caraga for alleged rampant dynamite fishing.

Edgard Cuanan, regional director of PNP Maritime Caraga named the five towns as Tagana-an, Placer, Claver, Socorro and General Luna.

Cuanan admitted they cannot eradicate illegal fishing activities in these areas. “We cannot totally eradicate the illegal fishing activities in these areas,” he told MindaNews.

He appealed to concerned citizens to report to them the persons involved in the illegal activity.

Aside from dynamite fishing, Cuanan said cyanide fishing is also rampant in General Luna town. The town is world famous for its surfing sites

He said government is seriously helping the fisherfolk through the Payao program of the government.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) launched in early March the nationwide deployment of fish aggregating devices or payaos for small fishermen operating within the country’s municipal fishing areas.

Asis Perez, BFAR national director, said the initiative is part of ongoing efforts to provide more stable livelihood opportunities for the municipal fishing sector and at the same time help protect and preserve the country’s fishing areas and resources.

“We’re engaging directly with the small fishermen, providing them with the necessary inputs and gears so they could benefit more from our rich fishery resources,” he said.

Cuanan hopes that with Payao, the fisherfolk would stop their illegal activities.

Cuanan also said they will increase seaborne patrol operations to preempt and apprehend violators engaging in all form of illegal activities.

“We shall intensify and extend the area of operation from seawaters of Surigao Norte to Surigao Del Sur particularly at municipal seawaters of Cantillan, Carrascal, Lanuza, Cortes, and Barobo utilizing PFB-225  and beef up intelligence monitoring operation to determine violations in every municipalities and identify their modus operandi and area of operation,” he told MindaNews.

General Luna Mayor Jaime P. Rusillon said the campaign against illegal fishing has been one of his advocacies since he became mayor in the 1980s.

He said fisherfolk from other towns are illegally fishing in his area.

Socorro town mayor Denia Florano said she is worried about the presence of illegal fishing activities in her town.

She said they are looking for ways to stop the practice. [more]

Blast fishing rampant in 5 Surigao towns


By Christine Emily L. Pantaleon
20 July 2013

(Cebu Daily News) – A group of scuba divers expressed alarm over rampant blast fishing in Talisay City’s Lagundi Reef.

Alfie Fernandez, a dive instructor, reported to Mayor Johnny Delos Reyes that they documented blasted fish found floating in the reef last week.

The reef used to be a thriving coral garden with plenty of fish and a good diving site, he said.

Fernandez, who lives a few meters away from the reef, said that he often noticed fishermen in the area.

“I can say that it was neglected and taken for granted. Corals were dying, fish were declining,” Fernandez said.

The Lagundi Reef is a 2.4-hectare coral reef about 1.5 kilometers from the Poblacion. It was declared a marine sanctuary in 2005

Fernandez said that he and two diving companions found blasted fish floating near the reef last Saturday.

“I know it is a result of blast fishing because I was trained as a fish warden by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR),” he said in his letter to Mayor Delos Reyes.

Fernandez said his group, the Sea Knights, is willing to assist in the restoration of the marine sanctuary.

Local government officials led by Vice Mayor Romeo Villarante will visit the reef today to check its condition.

Fernandez used to take care of the reef in 2006-2007 as a volunteer.

He said that he and other volunteers fielded hundreds of marker buoys around the sanctuary and put up a guard house.

A foreign vessel ran aground in the reef in 2009 destroying the marker bouy and part of the reef.

“I know how hard it is to nurture, preserve and protect the reef,” Fernandez said. [more]

Blast fishing in Lagundi Reef alarms divers

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