ILOILO CITY -- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (Bfar) reported about the poor state of the fisheries industry at the fourth governors’ meeting on the protection and coastal law enforcement in the Visayan Sea region.
Bfar Director Asis Perez said more than 800,000 metric tons of fish and fish products were imported by the Philippines last year.
“Ngayon lang nagkaroon ng public acknowledgement sa figures,” he told the participants of the meeting.
“Malaki na ang hinina ng pangisdaan (The fishing industry is not doing well now),” he said. He said the species imported by the country used to be the staple fish served in households, such as the galunggong, tulingan and mackerel.
Perez blamed indiscriminate harvesting of fish and fish products and illegal fishing methods as the reasons for the very low fish harvest.
“The only input of man on wild fisheries is only to harvest the resources,” he said.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, before the start of the meeting, told reporters the four governors of the province surrounding the Visayan Sea must work together to address problems brought about by the use of illegal fishing methods.
“Most likely the fishermen caught illegally fishing in municipal waters are from nearby provinces,” she said.
Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor, Masbate Gov. Rizalina Larente, Garcia and Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon met at the Hotel del Rio in Iloilo City, Iloilo province.
In her message, Garcia described her colleagues as “courageous dreamers, for this is not an ordinary fight. We are up against greed in the heart of men and this makes men formidable.”
She said the provinces share the Visayan Sea and must join hands in protecting it.
Government officials from the four provinces reported updates on the implementation of Coastal Resource Management (CRM) initiatives yesterday afternoon.
Negros Occidental reported the education and awareness drive of the government, while the Masbate report also included alternative livelihood programs for the fisherfolk, such as seaweed farming and abalone culture. Cebu, on the other hand, underscored the focus on protecting and conserving the marine environment as the main source of livelihood of fisherfolk in coastal towns.
Twenty-five cases have been filed in court against illegal fishing and 14 livelihood projects with the BFAR and the Integrated Coastal Resource Management Project, among others.
Environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr. said the program to involve the four governors was a “morale-booster” in the fight to preserve coastal marine resources.
He said the meeting also brought out in the open various concerns of the provincial governments, such as the peace and order situation of Masbate province.
He said that in Cebu Province, the illegal fishing method called “palitik” or the use of super lights and contained explosion with the use of a piston to stun fish and which leads to indiscriminate killing of fish, is still rampant.