LUCENA CITY—Endemic destructive fishing methods have again been reported in Tayabas and Lamon bays in Quezon province, prompting an environmental group to urge the local government to clamp down on illegal activities.
Tanggol Kalikasan (TK) project officer Jay Lim said the resurgence of illegal fishing activities was confirmed by a local fisherman in this town’s coastal village of Dalahican along Tayabas Bay. TK is a public interest law firm advocating for environmental protection.
A local fisherman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, blamed the presence of large commercial fishing operations for the dwindling catches in the Bay Area.
“It’s sad to admit that some of us have been forced into (indulging) in illegal fishing. I can’t blame them,” the fisherman told the Inquirer in an interview Thursday.
On June 1, three illegal fishing boats known as “buli-buli” (modified Danish seine) that were operating in the municipal waters of Pagbilao town facing Tayabas Bay were apprehended by combined officers of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard, Lim said in a separate interview.
Late last month, government authorities also halted the operations of commercial fishermen whose three boats used destructive ‘taksay’ (circular nets) off Alabat Island in Lamon Bay in the Pacific Ocean, Lim added.
More support needed
Quezon police also reported daily arrests of illegal fishermen in Tayabas and Lamon bays.
Lim said other destructive fishing methods using “pangulong” (purse seines), dynamite and cyanide also occur in the bays.
“TK has always been an active and supportive partner with government agencies in ending illegal and destructive fishing methods. But it looks like our combined efforts need more support,” he admitted.
Lim called on all local government officials here to take decisive action to stop illegal fishing.
“With the rising cost of living, more fishermen, both legitimate and illegal, will resort to illegal activities just to make a living and too bad for the environment,” Lim said.
Thirty-four of Quezon’s 42 cities are coastal: 17 along Lamon Bay in the Pacific Ocean, 12 off Tayabas Bay facing the China Sea, and five along the Gulf of Ragay. stressed that protecting the rich marine resources of Tayabas Bay from illegal fishing is a serious concern.
“For the first time, a hawksbill turtle, classified as critically endangered, was recently spotted in the bay. A whale shark was also sighted,” Lim revealed.
He said their continued monitoring has also shown that fish sanctuaries in Tayabas Bay are showing life again, as sea turtles, manta rays and various species of fish have started returning to the areas.
The coastline of Tayabas in the town of Sariaya serves as a sanctuary for turtles which usually come to lay and hatch their eggs from October to December.
Fishermen, fishery guardians and local officials have been trained to care for hatchlings of different sea turtle species at five nesting sites.
But numerous ‘baklad’ or huge fixed fish traps sunk at the bottom of the bay pose a deadly threat to sea turtles, a number of which have been found dead along the beach from suffocation after becoming entangled in traps to fish.
Coral reef poachers are also threatening the bay’s marine life, in some cases implicating fishermen who needed to supplement the income lost to commercial fishers.
According to a TK study, years of illegal and commercial fishing and pollution have damaged Tayabas Bay, which covers 287,332 hectares.
The depletion of marine resources in Lamon Bay in northern Quezon and in Tayabas Bay covering parts of Quezon, Marinduque and Batangas provinces has long been a concern for environmentalists.
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