By Danny O. Calleja
The use of “super light” in fishing within the municipal waters here is now completely forbidden.
Superlight as defined by the Anti-Super Light Ordinance of 2011 recently enacted by the city legislative council and now being enforced following its approval by City Mayor Socrates Tuason is a type of high-powered light using halogen or metal halide bulb which may be located above the sea surface or submerged in the water to attract fishes.
Like trawl and fine-meshed net fishing, the use of super light is blamed for overfishing that Republic Act (RA) 8550 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 has included as among the banned forms of fishing in municipal waters around the country–the waters within 15 kilometers from the coastlines.
The city’s municipal waters cover portions of the Masbate Pass and San Bernardino Straits.
Under the city ordinance, a violator shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to two years or a fine of P5,000 or both at the discretion of the courts, the same penalties that RA 8550 provide, according to Tuason.
The ordinance also outlaws the use of mercury lights and lights with more than 4,000 watts in combined electrical power of light bulbs in fish catching in the city’s waters but allows the use of incandescent lamp, pressurized gas lamp, compact bulb as well as “hasag,” a traditional gear of fisher folks, the mayor said.
Violators of the prohibition on the use of mercury lights and lights of more than 4,000 watts shall be slapped with a fine of P1,000 and imprisonment for up to six months.
The ordinance also provides monetary reward for law enforcers involved in the apprehension of violators while those responsible in the prosecution towards the conviction such as personnel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bantay-Dagat Task Forces and barangay enforcers will get 25 percent of the fine.
“This reward system is applied as provided under the ordinance to encourage local authorities to enforce the law seriously so that the city government is able to totally curtail super light fishing that is severely detrimental to our local fisheries resources,” City Vice Mayor Allan Cos explained.