The City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO) of Puerto Princesa City has intensified its campaign to help reduce environmental pressures in our coastal waters as it started to demolish baklad without permit that are installed outside the designated baklad zones.
Baklad are contraption made of bamboo poles and fishnets installed within the coastal waters to intercept fishes locally known as salay salay, mamsa, pagi, tolingan, talakitok and other fish species.
On July 9, 2021, the City ENRO through its Enforcement Division-Bantay Dagat Section has started removing bamboo poles and abandoned baklad that poses navigational hazards to fisherfolks, while baklad owners also volunteered to remove their own structures.
Present during the activity were SEMS Cardelar Stevie Angel M. Madriñan who heads the City ENRO Enforcement Division, Luisito Garcia, section head of the Bantay Dagat section of the City ENRO Enforcement Division, and other support personnel, including representatives from the City Agriculture’s Office.
Personnel from the national government agencies such as the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Operations Unit-Maritime Group (SOU-MG) accompanied during the operation, to provide security and maintain peace and order.
This week, similar activity is set in an effort to continue its campaign to rid hazardous structures found in our coastal waters that contributed to the degradation of our coastal ecosystem.
Michael Flores, former kagawad of Barangay Luzviminda and one of those who operate baklad in the area promised to remove their structures. Caretakers of other baklad owners such as Goldie Sibuco, a resident of Tacduan, Barangay Inagawan –Sub, Bodol Boros of Barangay Mangingisda, a certain Albert in Tagbarungis, Barangay Inagawan-Sub also promised to dismantle their baklad within the day, until it is completely removed.
During the operation, the group confiscated one compressor from Bobby Ibanes, caretaker of the baklad owned by Bodol Boros. He was accompanied by five other fishermen in his motorized boat. The use and possession of compression is prohibited by law.
To recall, the City Environment and Natural Resources Officer, Atty. Carlo B. Gomez has instructed the City ENRO Enforcement Division-Bantay Dagat Section to conduct inventory of baklad within the City’s coastal waters.
The Office of the City ENRO considers baklad to pose navigational hazard, unsustainable, environmentally destructive and unfair practice.
Baklad are navigational hazard because it obstructed small fishermen’s route within the municipal waters without any warning lights or devices that may alert approaching individuals.
Garcia, who heads the Bantay Dagat section of the City ENRO Enforcement Division admitted that removing baklad took time considering that divers will remove it manually, like what they did in the abandoned bamboo poles from the baklad owned by a certain Eric, a resident of Barangay Inagawan Sub on July 9, 2021.
“Delikado yan na maiiwan ang mga kawayan sa gitna ng dagat, peligro talaga sa mga mangingisda,” said Garcia.
Baklad is also considered as unsustainable fishing method because these are installed permanently within our coastal waters, catching premature fishes, including fish with spawns therefore disrupting their natural breeding cycle during the spawning season. If left unregulated, this might cause rapid depletion of our fisheries and other marine resources.
On granting permit to baklad owners to occupy strategic areas within the coastal waters, it is considered as an unfair practice since it deprived substantial number of small fishermen to fish in areas installed by baklad that occupied big areas, preventing low-income and subsistent fisherfolks to fish in potentially rich fishing grounds.
Operating baklad requires high capitalization for the purchase of big bamboo poles, nets, and other accessories, labor for the hauling of materials and installation of baklad estimated at One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) or more, which means that only high and middle income level individuals can only afford. Allowing them to occupy large areas within our coastal waters has displaced our small fishermen, because these same areas are fishing grounds where our hook-and-line and subsistent fishermen go fishing for their subsistence.
In this kind of situation, there exist a struggle between the wealthy baklad operators who intercept volume of fishes through their baklad and subsistent fishermen relied mainly on traditional fishing for their survival.
Atty. Gomez explained that while the local governments grant fishery privileges to one or few individuals, they denied and deprived the rights of the rest of the community. Giving advantage to few individuals against the rest of the community members deemed unfair and inequitable.
The City ENRO said that our fishing grounds should be accessible to all, specially to small fishermen. The absence of baklad within our coastal waters will also allow and give time for our city’s coastal waters and natural environment to rehabilitate.