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No violators so far in Davao Gulf closed fishing season

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A CREW of a fishing vessel cleans up before heading for another catch. — BW FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY — The fourth year of implementing the closed fishing season in the Davao Gulf commenced with no violators apprehended since June 1, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Davao Region office (BFAR-11).

BFAR-11 Regional Director Fatma M. Idris said two patrol vessels are currently deployed in the Gulf for monitoring with a bigger one on standby.

The monitoring is jointly undertaken by the BFAR Fishery Protection and Law Enforcement Group with the police maritime unit, the Philippine Coast Guard, and local government enforcers.

Ms. Idris said the agency is also continually reminding the fishing communities of the three-month ban on catching small pelagic fishes, which are locally known as karabalyas, galunggong, and matambaka, among others, until Aug. 31.

However, small fishermen are allowed to venture for sustenance, provided they do not use bag nets and ring nets, which are considered capable of catching fish on a commercial scale.

“Since 2015, there have been three commercial fishing vessels apprehended. One in 2015, one in 2016, and one in 2017 and all have settled under the office of adjudication committee secretariat. They were ordered to pay the settlement fine. The violation is fishing during closed season, regardless of tonnage, and even those engaged in municipal fishing or commercial fishing as long as they used ring nets and bag nets and they fish for pelagic species,” said lawyer Rachel Mernil Bacera, hearing officer of BFAR-11.

Ms. Bacera said the fines paid range from P45,000 to nearly P80,000.

Under the Philippine Fisheries Code, contained in Republic Acts 10654 and 8550, penalties start at P20,000 with a high of up to three times the value of the catch. Larger-scale fishing operations can be fined P100,000 to P500,000 or up to five times the value of catch. Other sanctions include imprisonment, confiscation of catch and gear, administrative fines, and license cancellation. — Maya M. Padillo