By Alexis Romero
MANILA, Philippines - Poachers are seen everyday in the waters of Batanes, and the provincial government has decided to acquire a patrol boat to deter the incursions.
Batanes Gov. Vicente Gato told The STAR the presence of poachers has affected the livelihood of residents, who are dependent on fishing.
“There are more or less 20 poachers (entering the province) everyday,” he said. “The number depends on the condition of the waves.”
The STAR spoke to Gato last Tuesday on the sidelines of the anniversary of the Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command in Tarlac.
Gato said the patrol boat will be registered as a cooperative under the provincial government.
“We will paint it blue and white and we will place the words ‘M.V. Batanes Patrol Boat’,” he said.
Gato said measures are being implemented to enforce fisheries laws and to arrest fishermen illegally entering Batanes waters.
“Definitely we will file cases (against poachers who will be caught),” he said. “It’s the law. We will follow the law.”
Poaching is a serious problem as it deprives Batanes fishermen of their livelihood, he added.
Gato said the provincial government’s limited resources continue to pose a challenge to their anti-poaching campaign.
“By all means we have to do it but our resources are scarce,” he said.
Gato said last year’s fatal shooting of a Taiwanese poacher has not discouraged them from enforcing the law.
However, Batanes law enforcers have been advised to be more careful when conducting operations, he added.
Eight Coast Guard men are now facing homicide charges over the shooting in waters off Batanes on May 9, 2013.
Taiwan had condemned the incident.
Last month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) found probable cause to file homicide charges against the eight Coast Guard officers and personnel.