DUMAGUETE CITY, Aug. 3 – Oceana-Philippines will launch its pilot-testing of the Vessel Monitoring Measures (VMM) in some towns in southern Negros this August.
Danny Ocampo, oceans campaign manager of Oceana-Philippines, disclosed Wednesday that from Aug. 15 to 18, they will lead in the actual installation of VMM gadgets in commercial fishing vessels in at least eight local government units (LGUs) of Negros Occidental.
The activity is in coordination with the provincial government of Negros Occidental, Ocampo said.
The pilot-testing areas include Sipalay, Hinoba-an, Himamaylan, Candoni, Ilog and Cauayan, among others.
Ocampo said installation of VMM is now mandated by law through the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) although deliberations continue for its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
A VMM gadget, whether radio frequency-based, satellite-based or cellular phone-based, will help vessel owners monitor in real time the movement of a vessel, Ocampo explained.
Apart from safety, another benefit for a vessel owner is on the economic side, as a VMM-installed vessel could be detected if it made unauthorized side trips, he pointed out.
On law enforcement, the VMM will minimize the requirements and utilization of personnel who run after violators of fisheries and other related laws, because they can monitor a vessel’s current location, he said.
For instance, a commercial fishing vessel who encroaches in the 15-kilometer municipal waters can now be easily detected through the VMM.
This will also benefit the marginal fisherfolk who are deprived of their fishing grounds by bigger fishing vessels, according to Ocampo.
In Sipalay, they even want to use the VMM for tourist boats, disclosed Ocampo.
If there is a distress call from the fishing vessel and no phone signal is available, a VMM that is radio frequency-based or satellite-based can be used to call for help, he said.
Also, a computer print out of the vessel’s location and other information based on the VMM can be accepted as evidence against violators, Ocampo added.
Oceana is actively campaigning to stop illegal commercial fishing in the Tañon Strait which is bounded by the islands of Negros and Cebu.
In Siquijor, where an orientation was held recently on Republic Act 10654 or the New Fisheries Code, Ocampo said many participants expressed interest in pilot-testing the VMM.
Earlier, Oceana had piloted the VMM use in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental and San Carlos, Negros Occidental for the FAME (futuristic aviation and maritime enterprise) model, while the pelagic mobile signal-based type is now being piloted in San Remigio in Cebu; Ayungon in Negros Oriental; and Sagay, Negros Occidental.
Oceana will be expanding soon as they are getting requests from Leyte, Manjuyod in Negros Oriental and Siquijor.
The use of vessel monitoring gadgets depends on the tonnage of a fishing vessel, Ocampo said.
Commercial large scale fishing vessels are required to use the VMS, which is satellite-based and expensive while the small to medium scale vessels with tonnage from 3.1 to 30 can use other technologies like mobile signal-based or radio signal-based, he added.
Meanwhile, Ocampo said they are hoping the IRR will soon be passed so that VMM use will be fully enforced.
Currently, national consultations on the IRR for the VMM use are being held in Zamboanga, Iloilo, Leyte, and General Santos City, where there is high concentration of fishing vessels, Ocampo said.
Ocampo said they welcome invitations from LGUs who are interested to discuss the law on VMM use and other related matters.