Government to crack down on illegal fishing — DA

MANILA — The Department of Agriculture on Wednesday said the government will crack down on illegal fishing and would file administrative cases against local executives who fail to curb the illegal practice in their communities.

In a press briefing at Malacañang, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal fishing would be as strict as its war against drugs and criminality.

“In fact, during the last Cabinet meeting, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that mayors and barangay chairmen of towns and villages where illegal fishing is prevalent will be identified later on and we are giving them six months until June,” he said.

“After that, the DA will file administrative charges against all mayors and barangay chairmen who could not stop illegal fishing in their communities. This is part of our advocacy to protect our fishing industry,” Piñol said.

At the same time, the Agri chief announced that the government has started an annual search for the most outstanding coastal communities in the country.

“This is also part of government efforts to produce more in the fishery sector as well as to protect the fishing industry,” he said.

Criteria for the award include the absence of illegal fishing, a self-proclaimed closed fishing season to allow the fish to spawn and produce more, a declared marine sanctuary, no garbage in their coastal waters, and a mangrove protection area.

“The most outstanding coastal communities will get a Presidential Award called Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan (MMK) and will receive PHP20 million that could be used for livelihood and other income generating projects in the said community,” Piñol said.

Meanwhile, the second placer will get PHP8 million and the third placer PHP5 million. Regional winners will get PHP2 million each.

Awarding ceremonies would be held on February 1 in Malacañang.