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Safety at Sea for Marginal Fishermen

Admitting that many of sea-going motorized bancas in his town are unregistered, Bagamanoc Mayor Odilon Pascua has said he will pursue the registration of the bancas along with the provision that the owners make sure that there are lifejackets in the frail vessels.

Motorized fishing boats

Years ago, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) issued the directive requiring owners and/or operators of such vessels to carry lifejackets whenever they sail. The order, however, has been largely ignored by marginal fishermen, who probably preferred to buy bait instead of the life-saving equipment.

Mayor Pascua deserves to be emulated by local chief executives of the other 10 towns, who should not tarry longer as the country goes into the typhoon season. Our fishermen, who may not earn enough to be able to buy cheap lifejackets, need the assistance of the government in this regard.

Last Sunday, a civic-spirited individual donated lifejackets to fishermen in Bon-ot, San Andres in the hope that like-minded people would follow in his wake. Such an act of generosity and concern for the well-being of poor fishermen should be welcomed and congratulated. But it would take more than private donations to provide all of our marginal fishermen with the basic requirement for survival at sea.

Motorized boats along the seawall

Perhaps, the local governments should craft a program that would provide indigent fishermen with lifejackets, provided they pay for half of the cost and they register their banca with the government. One more thing, the municipal governments, and the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council, should strengthen their typhoon warning system by ensuring that timely warnings are sent to coastal barangays to warn fishermen of approaching inclement weather even days before an official storm warning signal is issued by the weather forecasters. Such a policy would help us save Catanduanes from incurring casualties even during storms we consider too weak, like "Basyang."

Source: Editorial Page, Catanduanes Tribune - 07 August 2010

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