CA reverses ruling on fishing ordinance

Posted on April 24, 2015

THE COURT OF APPEALS (CA) has reversed the ruling of a local trial court that junked a Camarines Norte town’s ordinance allowing the confiscation of fishing vessels that use illegal paraphernalia.

Fishing boats can be confiscated in Camarines Norte. -- AFP
A 16-page decision dated March 25 gave weight to the appeal of Mercedes municipality, saying it could exercise its prerogative in protecting its coastal and marine resources under the Local Government Code. It also found the Municipality Ordinance (MO) No. 159-2007 consistent with the provisions of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.

The court’s Seventeenth Division through Associate Justice Leoncia Real-Dimagiba sided with the municipality in saying the ordinance did not violate due process when sanctioned the outright confiscation of vessels found with illegal fishing paraphernalia.

The Camarines Norte Commercial Fishing Boat Association, Inc. (CN-CFBA, Inc.) also said that the ordinance had the effect of outlawing the possession of explosives, in a petition that the Daet Regional Trial Court Branch 41 granted on appeal in its assailed August 2010 decision.

But the appeals court noted that Republic Act (RA) No. 8550, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, provided that mere possession constitutes prima facie evidence of illegal fishing, unless its use for research or other purposes is granted endorsement by the local government unit.

“Verily, the conflict between RA 8550 and MO No. 159-2007 is not as established as held by the trial court,” the decision read.

The municipality had said it intended to exercise its police powers and protect the livelihood of almost 90% of its constituents engaged in marginal or municipal fishing. Located in southeast Camarines Norte, it borders the San Miguel Bay. -- Vince Alvic Alexis F. Nonato