June 16, 2005

Illegal Fishing Still Common in Cebu (The Freeman, June 2005)

Illegal fishing is still common in Cebu, particularly in Lapu-Lapu City.

This is the observation of Reef Check Philippines project director Stewart Green, who had gone around the country advocating for the preservation of coral reefs and marine resources.

Green said illegal fishing stemmed from the lack of political will from among local officials. Republic Act 8550, or the Fisheries Code of the Philippines, bans the use of dynamites, blasting caps, cyanide, fine nets, and active gears in fishing.

Under the law, commercial fishing boats are banned within 15 kilometers from the shoreline.

According to Green, Lapu-Lapu City still has the most number of illegal fishers. This may be because the city is near to Talisay City where cyanide and blasting caps are made, he said.

Green said that Talisay City-made blasting caps, which are being transported to other provinces, are even exported to other countries.

The marine biologist said illegal fishing is among the leading causes of destruction of coral reefs, which serve as home and food for fishes.

“They (illegal fishers) are earning P300 to P500 a day and it is hard for them to stop because they can’t find any legal means of livelihood where they can earn that big,” Green said.

Reef Check has been educating fishermen about the ill effects of illegal fishing and introduces other means of livelihood to them.

Meanwhile, Lapu-Lapu City consultant on anti-poverty Mar Florante Cabahug has urged the city council to request President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to issue presidential proclamation creating the Metro Mactan Marine Development Authority, which will implement marine development projects in they city.

Cabahug said the authority would be tasked to administer the operation of the Olango Wildlife Sanctuary once it will be transferred to the city government from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

He also said that the MMDA would also implement the program transforming the Mactan shoreline into a world -class boulevard.

The squatters along the shoreline will be transferred to the proposed 25- hectare socialized housing project in barangay Canjulao.

Under the MMDA, Cabahug proposes the transformation of the city’s Caubian Island into a tourist haven.

— Wenna A. Berondo and Jose P. Sollano