SEVENTEEN fishermen were not able to return to home and enjoy their catch last Saturday morning. A joint team of police and Bantay Dagat arrested them and seized their big haul—some 2,000 kgs. of fish worth P150,000--for allegedly fishing in the restricted waters off northern Cebu town San Remigio. The boat, which is named “Queen Joy” and reportedly owned by Diosdado Ursal, was also confiscated. Before the arrest at 5 a.m., authorities were patrolling in the seas nine kilometers from the shore of Sitio Mancao, Barangay Anapog. They later chanced upon the fishermen, who were led by boat master Roger Forrosuelo, 46. Prohibited gears After they approached the boat, they found out the fishermen used an active gear called Danish seine, which are long flat nets like a fence that are used to engulf a school of fish with the boat moving around in a circle. Police said using such fishing net violates Republic Act 8550, or the 1998 Fisheries Code of the Philippines. The law prohibits “fishing in municipal waters and in all bays, as well as other fishery management areas, using active fishing gear.” Active fishing gear are “devices characterized by gear movements or pursuit of the target species by towing, lifting, and pushing the gears, surrounding, covering, dredging, pumping and scaring the target species to impoundments.” Examples include purse seines, Danish seines, bag nets, paaling, drift gill net and tuna long-lines. Section 89 of Republic Act 8550 states “fine-mesh users are subject to fines of P2,000 to P20,000 or imprisonment of from six months to two years.” In using an active gear, “the boat captain and master fisherman of the vessels who participated in the violation shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment from two years to six years,” Section 90 states. “The owner or operator of the vessel shall be fined from P2,000 to P20,000 upon the discretion of the court. The catch shall be confiscated and forfeited,” the law says. Other suspects Aside from Forrosuelo, the other arrested fishermen were engine master Manuel Arsolon, 40, Wilfredo Cena, 37, Julito Bautro, 26, Ranilo Ysulan, 33, Antonio Bacolod, 38, Alex Lacambra, 26, Nilo Rayco, 30, Junefer Despi, 37, Irenio Marapo, 34, Wilson Rayco, 35, Avelino Sevillejo, 41, Ramil Batuhan, 32, Rolly Descartin, 38, Jurlan Gallardo, 24, Donato Forrosuelo, 49, and Alejandro, 53. Police said the confiscated fish were given to the town’s social welfare office. It will be the social workers who will distribute the fish to San Remigio’s birthing center, and Don Severo Verallo Hospital and Bureau of Jail Management and Penelogy in Bogo City. Yesterday, the fishermen were still able to eat some of their catch since the San Remigio Police Station left some fish for the consumption of its detainees. “Ganinang buntag gatowa mi (We had a fish stew),” desk officer PO2 Herman Bulawit said by phone. Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 13, 2011.