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DA chief seeks mayors’ help vs illegal fishing

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INFANTA, Quezon – Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol yesterday sought the assistance of mayors in the government campaign against illegal fishing activities.

“I’ve asked the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to identify the towns with mayors who are doing nothing to stop illegal fishing activities in their localities,” Piñol said in a forum with fishermen here before sailing for an expedition to Benham Rise east of here.

Piñol said that he will ask President Duterte to suspend local chief executives who won’t act against illegal fishing activities. “I’ll recommend to Duterte to have the mayors who can’t stop illegal fishing suspended.”

Piñol said the move is part of the DA’s goal to eliminate illegal fishing in the country.

He said that according to BFAR, the Philippines loses R30 billion a year due to illegal fishing and poaching. “That’s a lot of money,” Piñol said.

Piñol said many coastal areas, such as Zamboanga, recovered after authorities addressed the problem of illegal fishing. “For a while, there was no tuna in the southern Philippines. They came back because there are now smaller fishes for them to feed on,” he said.

Piñol discussed several DA projects in the pipeline against illegal fishing, among them a special ID card for fishermen that they can use to avail themselves of a DA loaning program.

He vowed that those involved in illegal fishing won’t be made beneficiaries of the projects.

Piñol added that the BFAR, an attached agency of the DA, will soon get two patrol helicopters that it will use in going after illegal fishermen.

He said that fishermen will benefit from a halt to illegal fishing activities. The common form of illegal fishing here is the use of Modified Danish Seine called “buli-buli.” (Ellson A. Quismorio)