Richard is flashing a smile while taking a break from the sea.
An expression of abundant catch along Pilar Bay, within the municipal waters of Pilar town, that is also manifested among his colleagues’ faces.
The 45-year old fisherman has been into fishing as a livelihood for over three decades but it was only lately that he abandoned dynamite fishing that caused about half of his right arm because of a blast.
He was then engaged into dynamite fishing because of the tempting income from the illegal activity which eventually affected their haul as the explosions and another illegal fishing activity, trawl fishing, have decimated the school of fish in the area.
Trawl fishing is prohibited in the municipal waters because of the fine mesh net which catches even the fish fingerlings.
“I was then aggressive at my young age to venture into such malpractice but was
accidentally caught up by the blast,” he narrated, adding that the explosion had instantly cut off his hands.
But the dynamite blast victim is now doing the livelihood responsively and legally by just using the prescribed fishing nets and harvesting various shell fishes along Pilar Bay.
His disability has become a challenge on his occupation but fortunate enough that fishing has become compensating and less time – consuming as fish species has been populating Pilar Bay barely three months since the province’s seaborne patrollers were commissioned as frontliners in the campaign against marine and coastal waters poachers.
“There is really a need for a deeper understanding for those who engaged in destructive fishing methods,” said Capiz Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (CaPENRO) consultant and mediaman Glenn Beup.
He was instrumental in the creation of the Provincial Bantay Dagat locally coined “Task Force Yuhum” that carries out the diplomatic approach as well as enforcement of fishery laws among the violators.
“We observed about 80 percent reduction on dynamite fishing and a lot have also ceased their trawl fishing operation,” Beup said, noting that a large number has been heeding the house-to-house campaign.
He added that the seaborne patrollers will also go after commercial fishing boats that invade the municipal waters and destroy the coral reefs and other underwater resources.
The provincial government’s campaign has the support of a non-government organization Sentro Para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Agham at Teknolohiya (SIKAT) which aims to enhance coastal community resiliency by implementing community-based coastal resource management and disaster risk reduction programs, and promoting good governance practices in the country.
It is also bolstered with the help of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and USAID Fish Right that are working to improve marine biodiversity and the fisheries sector by curbing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities, among others.
“If the seaborne patrol will continue, our livelihood will help us improve our quality
of life,” said Jose, another fisherfolk who acknowledged that the task force has really contributed to the increasing fish population at the Pilar Bay.
The campaign may have started rough, likt and appreciated by those who make thee the waves in the sea, but is gradually fel fishing ground a source for livelihood security.
But, the task force is indeed living up to its name – that is to bring smiles to the fisherfolks by keeping the province’s underwater resources a rich fishing ground for small fishermen and for the next generation.
The smiles that mean hope and a brand of service that radiates love and care.
In both ways – they are teaching a man to fish the right way as they want to give a catch of a lifetime. (JBG/AAL/PIA Capiz)