Masbate tops provinces in boat light detections in Q1

By Mavic Conde


Masbate province has been consistent in having the highest boat light detections within its municipal water. In the first quarter this year, it landed on top among provinces in the country with 341 light detections mostly in San Pascual town.


That is according to Karagatan Patrol, an online platform that helps local governments monitor their municipal waters by using Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), a satellite sensor that can detect lights used by boats.


Two more coastal towns are in the Top 10 list with Milagros at 7th spot for recording 202 light detections and Cawayan at 10th spot with 195 light detections.


While these detections do not automatically mean these are from illegal fishers, Karagatan Patrol encourages LGUs to take a look at this information especially that the location where the detections were spotted is crucial. That is, within municipal waters, which is 15 kilometers from the shoreline.


Under the amended Fisheries Code of the Philippines (RA10654), a commercial fishing vessel may be allowed within 10.1 to 15 kilometers of municipal waters only when there’s an existing ordinance. The ordinance should be based on fisheries and socioeconomic sciences, as well as should also specify the following exemptions:


1. No commercial fishing in municipal waters with depth less than seven fathoms or 12 meters as certified by the appropriate agency;


2. Fishing activities utilizing methods and gears that are determined to be consistent with national policies set by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources;


3. Prior consultation, through public hearing, with the Municipal/City Fisheries Aquatic Resources Management (M/CFARMC) has been conducted; and


4. The applicant vessel as well as the shipowner, employer, captain and crew have been certified by the appropriate agency as not having violated this Code, environmental laws and related laws.


In 2020, Masbate also has the highest percentage of light detections in the Bicol region with 82 percent or a total of 1885 light detections out of 2303. Camarines Sur followed with 12 percent which is equivalent to 264 light detections; Camarines Norte with 6 percent or 142; and Sorsogon, Albay, and Catanduanes with 0 percent for 6, 4, and 1 detections, respectively.


In a previous Bicol Mail report, “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 with 20 percent, Camarines Sur with 10 percent, and other Bicol provinces with 2 percent.”


According to Karagatan Patrol, the local government of Masbate had already acknowledged their letter last year. However, the LGU hasn’t replied yet for the schedule of their meeting about this matter.