THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has partnered with the Central Command (Centcom), the Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard and the different local government units in northern Cebu in the campaign against illegal fishing.
Retired Navy Commander Lyndon Ruiz, head of the Cebu Provincial Anti-Illegal Fishing Task Force (CPAIFTF), said their campaign focuses on two key areas — law enforcement and information dissemination — to convince residents of Cebu’s coastal communities to stop their illegal fishing practices.
Ruiz said they were also tapping Oceana Philippines, the local unit of the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation, to help BFAR in community organizing and the conduct of livelihood skills trainings for the fishermen who will be affected by the campaign.
“At least makita nila ang (they would see our) total approach nato sa anti-illegal fishing,” he said.
The task force formally launched their “Kalambuan sa Dagat” campaign on March 3.
On the same day, the task force conducted a simulation exercise and patrolled the waters of northern Cebu to make their presence felt in the area.
Among the areas that they patrolled included Barangays Mahawak and Kawit in Medellin town and Isla de Gato, Carnaza and Malapascua Islands in the neighboring Daanbantayan town.
Two BFAR speedboats were accompanied by a navy vessel during the simulation exercise.
Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, deputy commander of Centcom, said that this endeavor should send a signal to the people that “we are one in this advocacy.”
“It’s so nice to see everyone coming together for the purpose of preserving our natural resources. The one done in Tañon Straight was very remarkable. It’s about time (to also do the same here in northern Cebu),” he said.
Prior to the March 3 launch of task force’s campaign in north Cebu, Oceana also organized a gathering of law enforcement agencies in their Cebu office in Badian town to also tap their help in protecting Tañon Strait.
“Helping in the preservation of nature is an act of patriotism and nationalism,” said Arrojado, who is also a member of the Order of Knights of Rizal.
Ruiz said they were also working with Medellin Mayor Joven Mondigo for the conduct of a Bantay Dagat training in his town “Para sila ang maging eyes and ears nato sa coastal (areas) (So they would become our eyes and ears in the coastal areas).”
The task force will also be coordinating with officials of neighboring LGUs to establish a common communications system that would facilitate easy coordination during sea operations.
He said an open communication line is needed especially in the conduct of hot pursuit operations against illegal fishers.
“During hot pursuit sa munisipyo, i-relay lang sa kabila para may blocking force,” he said.
Alvin Bacoyot, focal person of the coastal law enforcement of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas, expressed confidence that their partnership with LGUs and law enforcement agencies would yield positive results.
Bacoyot said DENR lacked an enforcement division to initiate an intensified campaign against illegal fishers.