(Top photo) A “Buli-buli vessel” with ring nets on board apprehended by the Eagle Force Group in barangay Lower Omen, Ragay CamSur. (Above) Members of the Eagle Force Group backed-up by personnel of the Ragay municipal police station during a patrol at the coastal waters of barangay Omon in Ragay. – Photo by SONNY SALES
By SONNY SALES
RAGAY, CamSur: A remote coastal village along the Ragay Gulf has become the sanctuary and docking area of commercial fishing vessels equipped with prohibited fishing gears like “ring net”, locally known as kalansisi, Likum-likum, Kubkub and the modified Danish Seine or Buli-buli, Hulbot-hulbot or zipper all prohibited under Republic Act 8550 or “the Philippine Fisheries Code”.
According to reports, as many as 10 to 15 fishing vessels, some coming from Quezon province, dock in this locality.
Allegedly, six of these vessels are owned by siblings of the barangay captain in this locality.
In a year end report of the Eagle Force Media Peace and Order Monitoring Inc (EFMPOMI) “Eagle Force Action Group Office,” a nationwide non-government organization headed by Chief executive officer Rolando B Lastimosa, the fishing vessels are seen in barangay Lower Omon, Ragay town, a coastal locality about 20km from the national highway and part of Upper Omon, upland ricelands of Ragay.
According to a spokesperson of the “Eagle Force group", the operations of the commercial vessels equipped with prohibited gears appear to go unrestricted in the municipal waters of Ragay Gulf.
Sources in the locality said Buli-buli fishing is the main source of income by some 2,000 local residents (600 families) who retail the catch in Ragay poblacion even as tons of fish are also brought to the Dalahika Fishport in Lucena City.
According to sources in barangay Lower Omon, barangay captain Demetria Sulit and her sons are the biggest operators with six Buli-buli vessels, all using prohibited fishing gear.
A resident remarked: Kahit sabihin nilang illegal ang gamit namin, pero iyong maliliit namang banca diyan ay kakaunti lang ang huli … at hindi naman sapat para ibenta sa mercado."
In Balatan, another fishing town along Ragay Gulf, small-scale fishing operators complained that last year “pangulong boats” -- 40-tonner fishing vessels with sonar equipment mostly owned by operators form Malabon and Iloilo -- secretly fished in Ragay Gulf at night.
In recent years, municipalities in Ragay Gulf have passed local ordinances that give priority to their own communities in fishing their coastal waters. – Vox Bicol