Illegal fishing continues amid GCQ

WHILE there was substantial improvement in the ambient air quality throughout the country during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the same cannot be said for other environmental spheres.

This is according to environmental lawyer Benjamin Cabrido Jr. who received reports from the Karagatan Patrol about the increase of illegal fishing activities despite the Covid-19-brought community lockdown in different parts of the country.

The Karagatan Patrol, an online reporting platform, is a collaboration between the nonprofit group Oceana Philippines and the country’s League of Municipalities to counter illegal fishing.

In a report on June 1, 2020, the Karagatan Patrol reported the apprehension of a commercial vessel for allegedly fishing illegally in the coastal waters of Santander, Cebu. During this time, the province had been placed under general community quarantine.

In April this year, the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources 7 (DENR-EMB 7) reported that the ambient air quality in Cebu had improved amid the ECQ. The EMB 7 attributed this to the reduction in the number of vehicles plying the roads and to the industries and factories operating less.

Rose Liza Osorio, Philippine Earth Justice Center Inc.’s managing trustee, however, told the public not to be complacent with their environmental practices now that several local government units have moved toward downgrading community quarantine levels.

She also called for an improved implementation of laws that seek to protect marine biodiversity and marine protected areas from exploitation.

“Because we’ve received reports that some sectors have taken advantage also of the lockdown and have been illegally encroaching upon these protected areas, and so, I take it one of the things that we are also looking at is that we need to improve the enforcement of the illegal fishing law in these areas,” she said.

She said studies showed that the continuous wildlife trade increased the risk of viral infections such as Covid-19 from animals to man.

Likewise, she said after reports of medical waste such as syringes, needles and vials containing blood samples, among others, being dumped in Lapu-Lapu City in January 2019, she believes that there is more work to do for the strict implementation of existing laws on solid waste management among healthcare facilities.

To avoid more waste ending up in bodies of water, she also urged the public to make use of washable masks. While the majority of the public are to stay in their respective homes, she also encouraged them to turn off unused appliances.

SunStar Cebu tried to reach the DENR-EMB 7 for its assessment but to no avail as of press time. The world celebrated World Environment Day on Friday, June 5. (WBS)