Effective law enforcement in Tañon Strait to address illegal commercial fishing in municipal waters is proof that through political will, inter-agency cooperation, and collaboration with stakeholders, deterring and stopping illegal commercial fishing bring benefits to artisanal fishers and our marine ecosystems. 

Oceana launched its nationwide campaign to stop commercial fishing in municipal waters through the establishment of an online platform, Karagatan Patrol, in partnership with the League of Municipalities of the Philippines. Karagatan Patrol reports illegal fishing in municipal waters and shares information with members of the local government, security and enforcement agencies, fisherfolk, industry players, and media.  

Commercial fishing boat detection maps are shared with subscribers to show possible intrusions of commercial fishing vessels in municipal waters. These maps are based on the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) data and enhanced by Oceana by overlaying municipal water boundaries based on the archipelagic principle, protected areas, fisheries management areas, and exclusive economic zone or EEZ.  

The enforcer-members of Karagatan Patrol use these maps to plan enforcement activities that led to successful arrests. The members use the platform to share enforcement activities, report ongoing illegal fishing, and incidences of illegal fishing methods such as bottom trawling and dynamite fishing. Karagatan Patrol has also gained recognition as a game changer in reporting illegal fishing methods in the Philippine media that used the platform as source of information for their coverage of these illegal activities including poaching by foreign fishing vessels in Philippine waters. 

Strong enforcement action against illegal commercial fishing in municipal waters is necessary especially that both commercial and municipal fisheries production have declined in the past 10 years. Appropriate use of technology such as vessel monitoring measures, effective enforcement, and requiring compliance by national and local authorities and commercial fishing operators are needed to ensure the sustainable management of fisheries resources in the Philippines.  

A momentous victory for our oceans, the Department of Agriculture finally issued the rules on vessel monitoring measures for all commercial fishing vessels on October 12, 2020. Oceana and its partners continuously urged the agencies of the implementation of the vessel monitoring measures requirement to cover all commercial fishing vessels in the Philippines as mandated by the amended Fisheries Code of the Philippines (Republic Act 10654). Once fully operationalized, the identity and activities of fishing vessels can be monitored electronically, this will deter irresponsible behavior and may result in significant impact on the current enforcement capabilities of national government agencies and local government units.