Bicol boosts fight against illegal fishing

The Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee (RLECC) in Bicol has intensified campaign to put a stop on illegal fishing activities by employing coordinated efforts among government agencies.

The Sub-Committee on Fishing and Marine Environment Protection (SCFMEP) of the RLECC Bicol will employ inter-agency strategies by creating technical working groups (TWG) on Municipal or City Fishery Ordinance (MCFO)and IEC Core Group (-IECCG) with specific functions.

Bicol regional director Dennis Del Socorro of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), chair of the SCFMEP, explained that the TWG-MCFO is tasked to consolidate and determine the draft and existing municipal or city fishery ordinances of the different local government units in the region,

He added that the TWG-IECCG, on the other hand, is entrusted to review, design and formulate strategies in preparing IEC materials needed for the RLECC campaigns.

Also, Bicol RLECC-SCFMEP has included three new member-agencies, including regional office of Land Transportation Office (LTO), Philippine Army (PA) and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Area 4 (CAAP) to support the original 15 members of RLECC-SCFMEP.

Del Socorro said the sub-committee serves as the venue for coordination by all law enforcement agencies of the government, involved in the enforcement of general and special laws, to ensure unified direction and integration of effort especially on fishing and marine environmental protection, throughout the region.

The sub-committee has already organized the Multi-Agency Task Force Against Illegal Fishing (MATFIF) which serves as its operating arm and is composed of p the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the Police Regional Office (PRO), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the Maritime Police, the Philippine Army, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Interior and Local government (DILG), and the concerned local government units (LGUs).

MATFIF, according to the BFAR director, has contributed a lot to make RLLC-SCFMEP cited recognition as Best RLECC-5 Sub-Committee last August 15, 2013 for successfully conducting impact programs, projects and activities that contributed immensely to the attainment of RLECC’s goals and objectives.

The task force has implemented a total of 2,440 sea-borne operations in different major fishing grounds in the region, with 393 persons arrested and 44 cases filed before the proper courts in violation ofRA 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 in 2013.

Del Socorro said that the accomplishment was the result of various related activities initiated by BFAR 5, including trainings and orientation on fishery law enforcement to different line agencies in order to establish collaboration.

BFAR also facilitated dialogues and consultations with commercial fishing vessel operators to resolve issues and concerns on fishery laws, rules and regulations, as well as to settle the conflict between the commercial fishers and municipal fisherfolk.

The bureau further deployed floating assets, including DA-BFAR MCS 3006 and three 28-footer BFAR patrol boats in the waters across the region intensifying law enforcement.

This year, RLECC is now preparing forthe Environmental Law Enforcement Summit on March 19 at Camp Ola, Legazpi City to update the member-agencies on the state of environmental law enforcement in the region and to identify areas of collaboration and coordination as well. (MAL/KAHilotin-BFAR5/PIA5)
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