|The public and private sectors unite against illegal fishing in the Albay West Coast.|
(Photo: Danny Calleja/PNA)
And the sea guardians' tireless and relentless efforts have been paying off.
Gonzalez group’s fight against big-time illegal fishers is strongly backed by Bishop Joel “Bong” Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi and other prelates in the region as well as Deona, Lt. Col. Perfecto Penaredondo of the Philippine Army, Greenpeace International and local communities in the west coast area of Albay.
Deona noted that, in spearheading the fight, the City of Ligao is the sole local government unit in the region spearheading a serious anti-illegal fishing campaign.
Upon his assumption as Bicol’s top cop, he immediately issued a stern marching order to his men: stop illegal fishing, illegal logging, drugs, illegal gambling and loose firearms.
“I assure you that under my watch there will no longer be untouchables in our campaign against illegal fishing in Bicol. We mean business in the PNP regional command. We’re happy that Congressman Fernando Gonzalez and the city government of Ligao initiated the anti-illegal fishing drive. We hope that other LGus will follow the same effort to save our seas as a gift to our children and their children,” the PNP Bicol chief said.
Fishermen in Albay's west coast have complained that illegal fishers, mostly commercial fishers, operating in Bicol waters come from Zamboanga, Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Quezon provinces.
These groups are operating within the waters of Burias Pass and Asid Gulf.
There is another group, the Lucena-Quezon group, which operates in Burias Pass and Ragay Gulf, the complaining local fishermen added.
Also operating in these areas are the Bicol group and the Navotas-Malabon-Cebu, which also operate in Sibuyan Sea and are equipped with state-of-the-art fish finders and armed men, they said.
At nighttime, the Burias Pass is like a "city of light" or a metropolis due to the presence of mushrooming "pangulong" commercial fishing vessels with super lights and equipped with fish finders and sonar detectors, and haul fish, big or small, sadly destroying the coral reefs, coastal villagers in Albay's west coast claimed.
They said the pangulong operation is the most damaging in Bicol waters.
Since Deona's assumption in his post, several pangulong vessels owned by Quezon province mayors operating in Masbate and Sorsogon waters have been apprehended by his men, who have filed cases that are now under court litigation.
Records show that 60 percent of big-time commercial fishers in the country go fishing in Bicol waters owing to its rich fishing grounds, and the most affected areas are the Burias Pass, Ragay Gulf and Pasacao-Quezon seas.
“There’s heavy pressure on the PNP but we are serious in our campaign to save our marine resources,” Deona said, adding, "while there is time, we need to act together to curtail illegal fishing." (PNA)