Zamboanga City tops list of areas with highest number of illegal fishing vessels – marine advocacy group

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 22) — More illegal fishing vessels were spotted within the municipal waters of Zamboanga City in the first four months of 2019 compared to the same period last year, according to an international advocacy organization for ocean conservation.

Karagatan Patrol, launched under the partnership between international organization Oceana and League of Municipalities of the Philippines have detected 1,045 commercial fishing vessels in East Sulu Sea and Moro Gulf off Zamboanga City from January to April. The number is 74.16 percent higher than 600 commercial vessels detected in the area during the same period last year, making Zamboanga City the local government unit in the Philippines with the highest number of illegal fishing vessels. The city was in the second place in 2018.

There were also big jumps in the number of commercial fishing vessels in San Francisco in Quezon, Hadji Mohammad Ajul in Basilan, Tongkil in Sulu, Santa Cruz in Marinduque and Cuyo in Palawan this year.

Karagatan Patrol detected a total of 18,564 commercial fishing vessels in 151 city and municipal waters in 2019 — significantly higher than the 14,089 commercial fishing vessels seen in 2018.

They were found through the visible infrared imaging radiometer suite (VIIRS) which detects superlights coming from commercial fishing vessels.

The Fisheries Code of the Philippines prohibits commercial fishing vessels from catching fish in municipal waters.

Oceana Philippines is set to release the full list soon and will coordinate with each local government unit.

The advocacy group is also pushing for the Philippines' enrollment in the Global Fishing Watch's vessel tracking system. This is to further monitor ships or fishing boats within Philippine waters to help apprehend those involved in illegal fishing activities.