PHILIPPINES - Driven by their desire to stop illegal fishing in their municipal waters, the nine coastal municipalities of the third district of Zamboanga del Norte have recently taken the first step against illegal fishing and all forms of illegal activities in the area.
This started with the signing of the Multi-Sectoral Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) creating the Bantay Dagat Kalikasan Task Force spearheaded by the congressional office of Congressman Isagani Amatong of the province’s third district and the 10th Infantry Battalion and government agencies concerned.
10TH IB Commanding Officer, Lt. Col Leonel Nicolas said the task force was formed after the municipal mayors of the southern municipalities aired their concern on the rampant illegal fishing in their municipal waters.
Aside from the congressional office and 10th IB, other signatories to the MOA were Vice Governor Senen Angeles, the municipal mayors of the costal municipalities as well as the representatives of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Philippine Maritime Police, Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police(PNP),
Assistant Regional Director Joseph Florig of BFAR-9 said: “The creation of the task force is so timely due to the excessive damage inflicted by the illegal fishing activity,” adding “unlike in agriculture wherein the farmer will have to invest first and cultivate their farm to have something to harvest, at sea one has only to prepare their fishing gadgets and go there and fish.”
He also appealed to the fishermen to observe the yearly closed season for fishing sardines from December 1 to March 1.
During the MOA signing, all stakeholders committed to support the fight against illegal fishing and other forms of illegal activities.
In his message, Col. Jesus Manangquil Jr. of the 101st Infantry Brigade commended the third congressional district and the 10th IB for taking the first step toward the preservation and protection of the land and sea resources. He also assured the stakeholders of the military’s support to the undertaking.
Michael Adrian Amatong, chief of staff of Congressman Amatong lauded the support extended by the mayors and the law enforcement agencies in crafting the MOA, as he challenged them to take an active role in the endeavor.
Vice Governor Angeles, on the other hand, assured the provincial government’s support to the creation of the task force and he challenged the mayors of the southern municipalities to sustain the initiative and not just end after the MOA signing. He also cautioned the municipalities in the issuance of business permit to the fishing operators and reminded them to specify the 10.5-kilometer limit under the jurisdiction of the municipal waters.
Mr Angeles added that the problem of illegal fishing has been the problem of the province for quite sometime and it is one of the major concerns the Uy administration is now giving a priority.
TheFishSite News Desk