CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane said yesterday that fisherfolk not only from his province, but also from Bataan, Cavite and Pangasinan have been adversely affected by the territorial claim of China over the Scarborough shoal or Bajo de Masinloc islands, off the western coast of his province.
In an interview at the meeting of the Regional Development Council (RDC) here, Ebdane said that in his province, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has been trying to assist the affected fishermen by establishing artificial fish sanctuaries called “payaos” in various off shore locations outside the disputed area.
He said, however, that the small fisherfolk have complained that the 70 payaos already established are too far off shore as they are way beyond the 15-kilometer municipal waters. Ebdane could not immediately cite figures on the number of fisherfolk affected by the controversy at the Scarborough shoal, but noted that many of them are from Masinloc, Sta. Cruz and Subic towns.
He noted, however, that most of them used to harvest abundantly from the shoal area from January to April, as the waves are too high for them in the rest of the year.
“They fish in groups of 10 to 15 small boats with one mother boat and they would stay in the shoal area for a month. The income they derive in that period would be enough to provide for them income for the year,” he said.
Ebdane said, however, that Chinese folk in big boats at the Scarborough seemed tolerant of small fishing boats of Filipino fishers. China was reported to have stationed three of its ships at the Scarborough shoal which it called Huangyan island.