DAGUPAN CITY – The city’s Agriculture Office, along with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), PNP Maritime and the Philippine Coastguard (PCG) conducted an open dialogue with fisherfolk of Barangay Pugaro and the barangay council headed by Punong Barangay Nestor Victorio at the barangay hall on August 7.

This was to discuss the concerns of the fisherfolk following the PNP Maritime’s apprehension of two Pugaro fishermen for violating Sec. 70 of the City Ordinance or the use of fine mesh or prohibited nets.

PSI Denny Torres of PNP Maritime, CPO Samuel Narvarte of PCG Dagupan and Elino Victorio of BFAR answered the queries of the fisherfolk and informed them of the national fisheries code being strictly enforced by their agencies.

Questions and concerns arose when the gear used by Pugaro fisherfolk violated Sec. 93 of the Republic Act 10654 or the amended Fisheries Code, which strictly bans the use of mesh nets; and Sec. 95, which bans the use of active gear in municipal waters, bays and other fishery management areas.

With the fisherfolk relying heavily on their nets for their livelihood, Mayor Belen T. Fernandez proposed options that may help resolve the plight of the Dagupenos. These include possible amendments to the city’s fishing ordinance or the formulation of a Dagupan-exclusive certification that would allow the seasonal use of  fine mesh nets.

In the meantime, PNP Maritime and PCG Dagupan have asked Pugaro fisherfolk to adopt a fishing calendar that would indicate coastal enforcement of their schedules in using their gear.

Following the fruitful dialogue, Mayor Fernandez asked for the fisherfolk’s compliance and cooperation.

“Naiintindihan ko kayo. Gagawa tayo agad ng paraan para hindi kayo apektado. Pero isa lang ang hinihiling ko – walang mang-aabuso. Do not abuse the opportunity given to you, ” said Fernandez.

In the same occasion, permits were awarded to 26 motorboat operators for completing their requirements in the mobile registrations held in their barangay. They are now authorized to operate their fishing vessels in the city’s river. (Verdelle De Vera/CIO)