BFAR closes Bajo de Masinloc to fishing

May 16, 2012 9:45 pm 

MANILA, May 16 — The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has declared the entire area of Panatag Shoal, otherwise known as "Bajo de Masinloc" and Scarborough Shoal, extending within one nautical mile from its margin, closed to all kinds of fishing activities by municipal and commercial fishermen, from May 16 to July 15 this year.

BFAR Director Atty. Asis G. Perez cited the precautionary approach for the protection and conservation of the marine resources as well as protection of Filipino fishermen from the harsh elements of the upcoming “habagat” (southwest monsoon) as reason for the fishing ban.

As such, Perez directed its personnel, members of the Quick Response Team (QRT), and elements of the Philippine Coast Guard on board BFAR-MCS vessels, to inform all fishermen of the directive and cause the full compliance of the Order.

Likewise, Perez directed its people to enlist the assistance of the PCG, the Philippine National Police (PNP), and local government units (LGUs) for the implementation of the Order.

He noted a scientific study will be initiated by the bureau and the scientific community to come up with a complete assessment of the fisheries and marine resources in the said shoal. The results of these studies would allow government to determine additional measures to be undertaken to ensure the conservation and protection of the resources in the area.

Te ensure that the livelihoods of the local marginal fisherfolk will not be adversely affected by the fishing ban, Perez said, adding that since last week, a total of nine units of “payao” have already been deployed in the municipal waters of Sta. Cruz, Candelaria, Masinloc, Palauig and Iba in Zambales province as well as in La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.

The livelihood initiative is attuned to President Benigno Aquino III’s directive to all Cabinet members to ensure that government assistance reach the lowly farmers and fishermen.

The “payao” is a fish aggregating device that would provide marginal fishermen a specific area to catch fish and only hand-line fishing is allowed. That way, fishermen would spare smaller fishes near the water surface that serve as food for the bigger fishes occupying the bottom areas and thus make the “payao” more sustainable.

Perez said BFAR is also set to deploy a total of 200 “payao” in appropriate municipal waters to help ensure the safety of the fishermen now that the “habagat” is fast approaching as well as to lessen the cost of fuel as this would provide them a specific location where to fish. (PNA) DCT/lgi/MAGI

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