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Leyte Gulf attacked by dynamite fishers
Based on the said Baseline study, the rampant dynamite fishing in the Leyte Gulf has resulted in destruction of coral reefs, decreasing fish catch, disappearance of several fish species, depleted mangroves and absence of sea grass beds. The Leyte Gulf is where American General Douglas MacArthur fulfilled his promise of returning to the Philippines to liberate the country from its Japanese conquerors.
Specifically, fish catch in the Leyte Gulf which used to reach 50 kilograms has now dropped to a daily 0 to 5kg which is certainly not enough to meet the family's daily needs. Fisherfolks who use motorboats in catching fish, for their part, face an even tougher challenge because they would need to spend more money for their boat's fuel.
"Those who resort to dynamite fishing use compressors, improvised flippers and explosives consisting of ammonium nitrate, sinker and scoop net," Jaime Ogtuan, a Bantay Dagat member, told visiting Manila and Leyte-based journalists in a press briefing here in Filipino, adding that their fight against fishermen using dynamites is even made even more difficult by the intrusion of big time commercial vessels to municipal waters in the Leyte Gulf.
Mayor Agapito Pagayanan Jr. of Tanauan, for his part, disclosed that the 10 to 20 Bantay Dagat members also have to deal with the motorboats used by the illegal fishers which sport faster engine with 32 horsepower compared with the Bantay Dagat boats, which only have 15 horsepower.
"Our Bantay Dagat members chase them on water and even on land. They are even accused of violating human rights by the owner of commercial vessels," Pagayanan pointed out.
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