bfar-logoTACLOBAN CITY, Dec. 5 (PNA) — The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) will file a case on Tuesday against the owner and crew of a Cebu-based commercial vessel who were caught fishing within a protected area near Sambawan Island in Maripipi, Biliran.

BFAR Regional Director Juan Albaladejo said their office has sent on Monday a legal team to Maripipi town to gather more evidence for the filing of cases against the commercial fishers at the Regional Trial Court here.

“BFAR is serious in its campaign against Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. We will do what is righteous and in accordance with the law. Violations will be served with appropriate actions,” Albaladejo said.

The captain, engine man and anyone in the fishing vessel involved in decision-making of the fishing activity will be charged for violating Section 95 Use of Active Gear in Municipal Waters, Bays and Other Fishery Management Areas; and Section 101 Fishing in Marine Protected Areas, and Fishery Reserves, Refuge and Sanctuaries of the country’s Fishery Code.

The 34.34 gross tonnage fishing boat had 25 crew members when seized by authorities near Sambawan Island past 9 p.m. on Dec. 1. Their illegal activity was caught by the joint seaborne operation of BFAR fishery law enforcement team, Bantay Dagat, Philippine National Police and Philippine Coast Guard in Biliran.

“The vessel caught esp. Decapterus macrosoma or blue mackerel scad locally known as galunggong evidently trapped in the estimated 1.5-kilometer long purse seine,” Albaladejo said.

Albaladejo recalled that only few fishes were confiscated from the vessel since most their catch was already transferred to a Cebu-bound fish carrier before the operation.

The vessel and fishing gears have been under the custody of the Biliran provincial office in Naval, Biliran. All crew members were temporarily released from detention on Dec. 2.

Local fishermen have been complaining of the intrusion of commercial fishing vessels in the municipal fishing grounds resulting in less fish catch and even destruction of fish aggregating device, buoys, and other local fishing paraphernalia.

Sambawan Island, tagged as Biliran’s tourism gem, has been declared as a marine protected area of Maripipi town. (PNA)