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Greenpeace urges gov't to intensify campaign vs illegal fishing in Bicol

DONSOL, Sorsogon, Oct. 31 — Climate change, ocean pollution and over fishing threaten the country’s food security as they already affect communities that rely on rich marine ecosystems for food, the Greenpeace a worldwide organization that advocates protection and conservation of the environment said.

Greenpeace also urged national and local authorities to intensify their drive against the widespread illegal fishing activities off the waters in Burias, and Ticao Pass in Masbate and the Ragay Gulf in Camarines Sur.

Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, at a community conference held here over the weekend expressed alarm over the unprecedented destruction of the Philippine marine ecosystem due to the unabated illegal fishing practices that led in the dwindling of fish catch.

Greenpeace statistics show that the Philippines have 24 fishing grounds with an estimated production of 5.1 million metric tons of fish.

Of the 24 fishing grounds, 13 fishing grounds, or 54 percent, are over exploited due to overfishing.

Cinches said the inaction of local and national authorities in addressing these problems would endanger the country’s marine resources.

He said marine resources were under threat from massive overfishing and unsound fishing practices that are already affecting communities that rely on rich marine ecosystems for food.

Overfishing is the major threat in the marine ecosystem that endangers not only the fishing industry but livelihood and food security of a community.

While, illegal and unregulated fishing practices, especially those used by large fishing vessels, contribute significantly to the depletion of marine resources, he said.

Monsignor Angel Dy of the Sorsogon Social Action Foundation (SACF), in an interview, said fisher folks around Burias-Ticao Pass in Masbate and the Ragay Gulf in Camarines Sur could not compete with large commercial fishing vessels that encroach on municipal waters.

“We know that illegal and unregulated fishing is rampant in our waters, and yet no one seems to be doing anything about it. This is the reason why last year four Bicol Bishops went to President Aquino to request that his office ban commercial vessels from the waters around the provinces of Masbate, Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur,” Dy said.

Cinches said that the country’s marine resources are in crisis, the government must act on these emergency situation as he urged the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to come up with a fisheries rescue roadmap by intensifying its campaign against illegal fishing and the establishment of more marine reserves and sanctuaries.(PNA)

RMA/MSA/CBD/

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