by Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sep 22, 2017
LUCENA CITY — Illegal fishers are back in the bays of Tayabas and Lamon in Quezon province, this time with minors reportedly working on fishing boats, an official of an environmental group said.
“The recruitment of minors as boat workers will give birth to the next generation of illegal fishers. It will be an endless cycle of environmental destruction,” Zeny Bernal, Tanggol Kalikasan (TK) Southern Luzon program director, said on Wednesday.
She said TK, a public interest law office which advocates environmental protection, had been receiving reports of resurgence of blast fishing and other illegal fishing activities in the province’s waters.
Bernal said their reports also indicated the continuous operations of commercial fishers whose boats used the destructive “pangulong” (purse seines), “taksay” (ring nets) and “buli-buli” (modified Danish seine).
“But what was more disturbing were the reports that most illegal fishers had been recruiting teenage boys as crew members,” she said.
A patrol team from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, she said, encountered illegal fishers in the waters of Tayabas Bay in Lucena City on Monday.
“Most crew members, who were youngsters, were able to jump out of the boats,” Bernal said.
Years of illegal and commercial fishing and pollution had damaged Tayabas Bay, which covers 287,332 hectares, according to a TK study.
Bernal called on local officials and their social welfare officers to stop the recruitment of minors in illegal activities at sea.
The depletion of marine resources in Lamon Bay in northern Quezon and Tayabas Bay covering parts of Quezon, Marinduque and Batangas provinces has long been the subject of concern among environmentalists.
TK has started a rehabilitation project aimed at reducing threats and improving sustainable management of marine resources in Quezon’s waters, particularly Tayabas Bay. —Delfin T. Mallari Jr.