50 foreign vessels spotted off Ilocos

LAOAG CITY, May 23–Provincial fishery regulatory officer Arthur Valente confirmed reports that about 40 to 50 foreign commercial fishing vessels suspected to be of Vietnamese markings were spotted off the coastal waters from Bacarra to Pagudpud, all northern towns of Ilocos Norte.

The foreign vessels were there in the area, some 30 nautical miles from the shoreline, since Thursday last week but it was only reported to his office last Saturday, Valente said.

In a noontime broadcast interview on Tuesday, the fishery officer reported that the vessels are believed engaged in poaching in the area “to steal the local fishermen’s “payao” where migratory big fishes are abounding such as yellowfin, etc.

He said the vessels eluded confrontation when the locals tried to approach them. It’s feared they are armed as surmised by the locals, he added.

He explained, “We tried to photograph and video them for documentary evidence but the vessels would sail away. At night, we counted them about 40 to 50 in number based on their visible headlights from the distance.”

Owing to inferior seacraft capability to run after them by local authorities, he asked the Coast Guard, PNP and BFAR higher ups to help take the necessary action.

At press time, he said the concerned national agencies had a joint emergency meeting to help resolve the matter.(Tri-media report)