Illegal fishing in Tañon Strait decried

LOCAL stakeholders have called for the monitoring of illegal and commercial fishing in the Tañon Strait Protected Seascape (TSPS), the largest marine protected area in the Philippines located between Cebu and Negros.

“Tañon Strait is one of the top marine biodiversity hotspots in the country. A strong monitoring mechanism is necessary to ensure that our marine wealth is protected against illegal commercial and destructive fishing,” said lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice President for Oceana Philippines.

Oceana is pilot-testing the use of vessel monitoring technology to track fishing activities within the protected seascape.

Ramos observed that despite the area’s protected status, overfishing, unregulated coastal “developments,” and pollution, among other challenges, persist, which impair fish habitats and adversely affect the livelihoods of artisanal fisherfolk.

Oceana presented before local stakeholders the use and benefits of the Vessel Monitoring as a tool to track fishing vessels and identify fishing hotspots, during Tañon Strait Site Management Unit (SMU) meetings last week in four sites: Cebu City; Calatrava, Negros Occidental; and Guihulngan and Dumaguete, both in Negros Oriental.

Vessel monitoring is a non-satellite-based tracking system, which uses on-board units that transmit information such as location and speed of a vessel, to receiving units, which can be a computer, a tablet or a phone.

This enables users to track and monitor the position, course, and speed of the vessels from 3.1–30 gross tons, at any given time.

This is cheaper than the satellite-based vessel monitoring systems (VMS) required to be used by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for use by commercial fishing vessels weighing more than 30 gross tons.

The amended Fisheries Code (RA 10654) requires the installation of vessel monitoring technologies in fishing vessels over 3.1 gross tons, for fisheries management, which is helpful especially in delicate ecosystems and protected areas

“It is a fact that commercial fishing vessels continue to encroach the municipal waters in Tañon Strait. Putting in place a monitoring mechanism will provide a holistic approach to sustainable fisheries management in the Strait and hopefully deter illegal fishing activities,” Ramos said.

Ramos also emphasized that vessel monitoring is an effective tool in tracking the activities of vessels passing through Tañon Strait.

Citing the recent oil spill in Moalboal, Cebu where the culprit has not been identified, Ramos pushes for monitoring of vessels passing through environmentally critical areas such as Tañon Strait, for accountability in the event of destruction and damages caused to marine and coastal ecosystems and the livelihoods of the residents. (Oceana Philippines)

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Monday, 19 February 2018
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