By John Noel E. Herrera
The Iloilo provincial government has funded the establishment of anti-illegal fishing hubs in key coastal towns.
Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. said the move is part of strategies for stricter law enforcement against illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in the province’s fishing waters.
Defensor added that it is not just the provincial government’s priority to strengthen the operations to stop illegal fishing, but also the proper management of a portion of the Visayan Sea that is within Iloilo’s jurisdiction.
The governor said the Capitol downloaded a total of P5 million to some strategic municipalities along the province’s coastline for the construction of a “resilient hub” that will serve as the headquarters of authorities who run after illegal fishers.
“Ining ulihi, we downloaded P5 million to strategic municipalities in the north and in central and southern Iloilo for the construction of a resilient hub that will be the headquarters of our operations for the management of the Visayan Sea, and dako sina da ang role sang aton PNP (Philippine National Police), sang aton maritime command upod sa aton Bantay Dagat,” he said.
Iloilo province has a long coastline with the southern part accounting for some 65 kilometers of coastline spanning 70 barangays in five municipalities, while Northern Iloilo has 14 coastal towns.
Previous reports also indicated that illegal fishing cases in the province mostly happen in the waters of Carles, Estancia, and Concepcion, while most alleged illegal fishermen are from Negros Occidental and Masbate.
Defensor noted that it is important to give attention to IUU fishing as it poses threats to food security and the livelihood of coastal communities.
He underscored the role of aquaculture in supporting the livelihood of ordinary fishermen and to cushion possible protein shortages in the province which is grappling with the African Swine Fever (ASF) which has decimated the pork industry.
“It is a priority because it is another source of protein. Dapat ma-maximize ta gid ang halin sa dagat naton, considering that we are facing problems sa baboy, and even chicken is threatened, so we are looking at other sources,” the governor said.
The provincial government earlier implemented a color-coding scheme for about 1,600 fishing vessels in Iloilo to help identify illegal fishers.
Iloilo Provincial Agriculturist Ildefonso Toledo also said that they let the towns decide on their color as the color-coding scheme would allow them to know if the illegal fishers were from Iloilo or from outside of the province.