Foreign fishing vessels poach on local fishermen’s payaw

December 29, 2015 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

By Yolanda Sotelo
SUAL,  _ Foreign fishing vessels which used to poach on the Philippines’ coral reef areas are already invading the payaw (artificial reef areas) put up by Filipino fishermen.
During the 27th fishery forum of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, fishermen from Bolinao complained about unmarked fishing vessels that flock to the payaw areas at night, using “superlights” or fishing light attractors.
The payaw are fish aggregating devices consisting of a floating raft anchored by weighted line with suspended materials like palm fronds to attach fish.
“Because they are so many and they use superlights, it looks like there is a city or  fair (peryahan) in the sea,” Vicente Ariesgado, 45, a commercial  boat captain from Bolinao, said.
While unmarked and have no flag to identify their countries of origin, the fishermen said the vessels could be owned by Vietnamese and Chinese fishermen because “they looked like the vessels we used to see at Scarborough Shoal.”
“We cannot fish anymore at Scarborough and now, they are invading even our artificial reefs,” Virgilio Jordan, 38, also a commercial fishing vessel captain.
The local fishermen, who claimed they are familiar with the make of the  foreign CFVs, said they could not compete with the foreign fishermen.
“Barko ang gamit nila, kami bangka (they use ship, we use boats),”  Ariesgardo said.
Neither could they communicate with the foreigners “because we could not understand each other.”
Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Ilocos Regional Director Nestor Domenden said the BFAR officials have discussed the problem with the Philippine Navy and the Coast Guard, after reports reached him of the presence of 35-40 foreign CFVs off Ilocos Norte.
“We are acting on the problem,” he said.  The Philippines is a signatory to an international plan of action adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported Fishing (IUUF).
Since the foreign vessels have no flags, they are violating laws against IUUF.
 “The solution won’t be immediate. Maybe it will take months but when we are able to identify the CFVs and report them, their countries’ departments on fishery would have to take action against the CFV operators,” Domenden said.
The BFAR was able to get markings on some boats but would need to verify the language used.
Ariesgado said there are around 50 foreign commercial fishing vessels that poach in the West Philippine Sea.
“They have increased in number this year, and there are plenty of them now because these months are season to catch yellow fin and blue marlin,” Jordan said.
The payaw were established by Filipino private CFV owners some 30 nautical miles from the shore of Bolinao, the fishermen said.
Though privately owned, the local fishermen are allowed to catch fish in the payao areas as long as they use hook and line locally known as kawil.
The BFAR allows only kawil as instruments to catch fish in the payao areas as it is a sustainable means to catch fish, Domenden said.
But the foreign CFVs use superlights as many as 16 (eight on each side of the CFVs) to attract the fish and then use trawls to haul the fish.
“They have efficient means to catch fish, which leave us nothing to catch,” Sigfredo Ybanez, 50, also a CFV master, complained.
“Superlights”  or fishing light attractors are fishing aids that attract both fish and members of their food chain to specific areas in
order to harvest them.

Entry filed under: News.


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