Ignorancia legis neminem excusat. The latin equivalent of a famous saying “Ignorance of the law excuses no one”. Ignorance can certainly be pure bliss to some people but this is definitely not the case in the protection and conservation of our marine treasures and ensuring that the present and the future of our country is safely secured through sustainable fishing practices that leads to food security for our nation.
As the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region 8 heightens its campaign against Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF) activities, the Agency through its Fisheries Coastal Resources and Livelihood (FishCORAL) Project conducted the Fisheries Law Enforcement Training for Judges and Prosecutors at Ormoc City, Leyte last July 22-24, 2019.
Targeting one of the major pillars of our judiciary system, the training served as a platform for our respected judges and prosecutors to have a better understanding of the concepts governing the Philippine Fisheries Code and for them to be cognizant of the endeavors that our fishery law enforcers undertake towards the conservation and protection of our fisheries and aquatic resources.
Honorable judges and prosecutors from the different municipalities of Eastern Samar, Samar and Leyte were present during the training. Likewise, law enforcement agencies and Non-Profit Organization that are partners with the Bureau in upholding its mandate such as the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police Regional Office 8 , PNP-Maritime Group, Philippine Navy, and Oceana Philippines shared their expertise and experiences during the 3-day event.
The training consisted of different lectures concerning topics vital in the implementation and understanding of Fishery Law Enforcement. Discussion especially on the science behind prohibition of certain fishing gears and fishing practices and the basic underlying concept of Fisheries Management Areas (FMAs) were tackled. Similarly, prohibited acts under RA 10654 and its accompanying sanctions and penalties were explained to the participants as well as the usage of present day technology in capturing evidences used to aid enforcers in fortifying their cases to the court. Additionally, Maritime Law Enforcement was one of the special topics discussed.
Furthermore, an actual field simulation of a seaborne operation was conducted with the law enforcers from different agencies performing their functions in apprehending a commercial fishing vessel caught doing one of the prohibited acts of RA 8550 as amended by RA 10654.
All these efforts laid down for one goal. A goal to turn the tides of destruction caused by the rampant IUUF activities into a gigantic wave of change that will save our diverse and bountiful oceans. A collective and unified front consisting of the country’s primary defender is most needed now more than ever towards securing the abundance of our blue waters and ensuring that one of the country’s potential sources of renewable and natural resources is not hunted down to its last species.