Piñol creates West Philippine Sea task force vs illegal fishing
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol has ordered the creation of the West Philippine Sea Task Force Against Illegal Fishing (WPS-TFAIF) following reports from fishermen in Zambales of unabated illegal fishing off the western seaboard of Luzon.
WPS-TFAIF will be headed by retired Coast Guard Commodore Eduardo Gongona who is the present director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
“I directed Undersecretary Gongona to utilize the modern vessels of the BFAR in the campaign against illegal fishing activities and also tap the Philippine Coast Guard in the task,” Piñol said in a post on his Facebook page. “Local government officials in the provinces of Zambales, Bataan, Pangasinan, La Union, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte will also be engaged in the effort to stop destructive fishing in the area.”
According to the agri chief, foreign fishing vessels, mostly Vietnamese, Chinese, and Taiwanese, illegally fish in Philippine waters, venturing as close as 50 miles off the coast of Zambales.
He said some locals are also involved in illegal fishing by using destructive methods such as dynamite blasting and cyanide.
“The country needs to protect and conserve its fish and marine resources for the growing Filipino population and the organization of the WPS-TFAIF will be relentlessly pursued,” Piñol said. “Illegal fishers who will be captured, both local and foreign, will be dealt with the full force of the law. Illegal fishing has to end.”
Aside from local government officials and the coast guard, Piñol said the task force will also tap local fishermen and assign lawyers to ensure that those involved in illegal fishing are charged accordingly.