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Not all hulbot-hulbot fishermen who signed the manifesto vowing to end their illegal practice made good on their promise. But it was not long until the arm of the law caught up with them.
The Iloilo Provincial Bantag Dagat Task Force arrested 26 fishermen on February 19 and 20 off the waters of Ajuy, Concepcion and San Dionisio towns, some of whom had signed a manifesto declaring their would no longer use hulbot-hulbot.
“They signed the manifesto but continued using hulbot-hulbot thinking that we will relax our operation against them. We need to teach them a lesson,” said Provincial Administrator Raul Banias.
“We have confiscated their boats and fishing gears,” added Banias.
The Bantay Dagat apprehended nine fishing boats using hulbot-hulbot on Sunday and Monday and identified 26 crew members who would be charged in court.
Three of the fishing boats, according to a Bantay Dagat report, were apprehended off Concepcion, and were abandoned by their owners. One was named Nonoy Jay while two others were unnamed.
Three others were arrested off San Dionisio – MBCA Virgo owned by a certain Bongbong Balsicas with six crew members, an unnamed fishing boat owned by Emilio Angwas with four crew members, and another unnamed fishing boat owned by Roy Alayon, als with four crew members.
Apprehended off Ajuy were MBCA Larabell owned by Larry Balili with four crew members, MBCA C-J owned by Julio Asturias with four crew members, and MBCA Angel owned by Arnold Azucena with four crew members.
Hulbot-hulbot involves throwing a large rock tied to a net into the sea and dragging it underwater. It is thus considered to be environmentally destructive because dragging it underwater to catch fish ruins coral reefs, the spawning grounds of marine life.
The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 bans the use of hulbot-hulbot within municipal waters or 15 kilometers from the shoreline.
Late last year, hulbot-hulbot operators from San Dionisio, Ajuy and Concepcion signed separate manifestos where they committed to stop the said illegal fishing practice.
In their manifesto, the hulbot-hulbot operators admitted that their fishing grounds have deteriorated because of their environmentally-destructive practice. (Capitol News)