Over 1,158 metric tons of fish per year valued over Php57 million is being lost to illegal fishing activities at Calamianes Group of Islands that covers four island municipalities in Northern Palawan. This is based on the assessment report by United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Fish Right Project.
The report said that 70 percent of this data is caught by outsiders or non-residents of the four municipality such as Busuanga, Coron, Linapacan and Culion, while 30 percent of it are done by the locals who are engaged with fishing with air compressor, beach seine, using blasting caps, dynamite, using fine meshed net and even catching endangered species, and a lot more.
The said measure of illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing was conducted early this year in Calamianes due to its image as ideal for its vast marine waters and rich marine biodiversity, making it highly dependent on fisheries resources and a hotspot for illegal fishing.
The group also implemented one strategy to help eliminate this kind of activities, like what they did in Busuanga where they engaged former illegal fishers to be part of Bantay Dagat activities, and get incentives from local government units by patrolling the coastal waters, and involving them for tourism activities as part of the preparation when they open the place for tourists.
Fish Right aims to replicate the said method to other towns with the help of different agencies like the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) that expressed interest in targeting the said statistics to go down in fishing index by year 2021.
“We need this ‘thermometer’ to help us gauge how well we are doing in deterring, preventing, and eliminating IUU fishing nationwide. All these efforts will work towards rallying for more support from the government and even the private sector, and simultaneously managing resources and protecting the environment,” said Nygiel Armada, Chief of Party of the Fish Right Project in a statement sent to Palawan Daily.