September 21, 2021

Surigao governor slams illegal fishing off Siargao


Philippines—Surigao del Norte Governor Sol Matugas lambasted what she called the inaction of Siargao Island officials and other government agencies to curb rampant illegal fishing operations off Siargao Island.

Matugas told the Inquirer last week that the island was losing its rich marine resources to illegal activities of commercial fishers and destructive fishing practices like dynamite fishing and “sudsud,” which is similar to muroami, which involves the pounding of corals to drive the fishes to the fish nets.

Matugas said the main reason the illegal fishing activities continued was laxity on the part of the island’s mayors, maritime police officials and other concerned agencies to enforce the law and arrest the culprits.

“The problem of illegal fishing off Siargao is really serious. I’ve pounded the heads of the mayors and maritime police to do their share and to curb illegal fishing,” she said, citing a recent meeting she had with Siargao officials.

Matugas said she found it unacceptable that the officials always use lack of manpower as an excuse for their failure to curb illegal fishing.

“I told them that if they can’t address the problem because of this lack of manpower and facilities, then they better close their offices,” she said.

The waters around Siargao host a large number of fish species and are regarded as a fishing mecca.

The rich marine biodiversity has attracted foreign and domestic tourists, including game fishing enthusiasts.

Matugas said illegal fishing activities could kill the marine resources of the island and efforts to turn it into one of the country’s premier tourist destinations could fail.

Echoing Matugas’ sentiments, American fishing aficionado Alan Loris said the rare fish species that thrive in the waters off Siargao face extinction due to illegal fishing.

“Traces of illegal fishing are evident," Loris said. "The Philippine government must act to preserve and protect Siargao’s fishing grounds and marine resources.”

Matugas said out of frustration she has started a campaign against illegal fishing and would not wait for action from other local government officials anymore.

She said a plan has already been mapped out and small fishermen will play a vital role in the campaign. (Inquirer)

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