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Satellite imaging helps to monitor illegal fishing

BFAR-5 officials explain the significance of VIIRS boat detections during the meeting of Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee in Legazpi City. The RLECC is a sub-committee of Fishing and Marine Environment Protection. -CASANDRA BALALA

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources in Bicol (BFAR-5) is recommending the employment of a satellite technology called the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) which helps monitor illegal fishing in coastal waters around Bicol region.

VIIRS is a satellite sensor that can detect fishing boats that employ lights to attract catch.

It is also effective in monitoring boat activities in different fishing grounds and restricted areas, particularly the designated marine protected areas.

In 2018, the total VIIRS boat detections inside the municipal waters of Bicol Region were paced at 6,754. The province with highest VIIRS boat detection was Masbate with 68 percent, followed by Camarines Norte, 20 percent, Camarines Sur with 10 percent, and other Bicol provinces with 2 percent.

BFAR-5 said that the higher the VIIRS boat detections in an area, the higher the chances that there were illegal unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) activities happening.

Based on the data in 2018 of VIIRS boat detections, the areas with high chances of IUUF were the fishing grounds of Asid Gulf, Lamon Bay, Sibuyan Sea Ragay Gulf, and Masbate Pass.

These were the fishing grounds where apprehensions of illegal fishing vessels were rampant.

BFAR-5 also emphasized that the hotspots of IUUF in maritime information report are the same with the VIIRS boat detections’ areas of concentration.

In various activities, programs, tools and data, BFAR-5 incorporates VIIRS boat detections such as seaborne operations or patrolling, fish vessels inspections and apprehensions, fishery closure, vessel monitoring system, and others.

All these are summed up and analyzed to come up with an effective and efficient operational plan to solve the problem on IUUF.

On the other hand, there are also VIIRS alerts available thru SMS, email, and telegram Apps for free. Last year, the additional recipients of VIIRS boat detections daily alerts or tip-off were the local government units of areas of concern in Masbate, Camarines Norte, and Camarines Sur.

BFAR-5 said that any LGU or agency that want to receive the VIIRS daily alert should directly coordinate with their office. (PIA5/Albay)

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