LANAO DEL NORTE- The Panguil Bay Development Council (PBDC) and Agriculture Undersecretary for Fisheries and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) national director Asis G. Perez declared Panguil Bay, a fishing ground in Mindanao, sanggab-free.

“Sanggab” or filter nets are illegal fishing structures that proliferated in the Bay. Based on the assessment by BFAR personnel, there were 2, 273 units of sanggab in the area. With the support of the local government units (LGUs), the illegal structures were all removed.

“We provided assistance to affected fishermen for four months only as after this duration, we reaped the harvest of this initiative as we can catch bigger and more fish,” Tangub City mayor and PBDC member Philip Tan said.

Panguil Bay, which sprawls across two cities and ten municipalities in Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Misamis Occidental, was one of the richest fishing grounds in Mindanao and habitat to indigenous fisheries species such as tiger prawn (sugpo), marine water shrimps (hipon), mud crab (alimango), window pane shells and other kinds of shells, known locally as "agihis," that serves as food for prawns and fish of commercial value. Over the years, however, the Bay has suffered from various problems including dwindling fish stocks and illegal fishing.

On April last year, the PBDC was revived and chaired by Perez to manage the bay and halt all forms of illegal and unsustainable fishing activities.

The Council is composed of governors from the provinces of Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Misamis Occidental, local chief executives, BFAR Regions 9 and 10, Mindanao State University-Naawan, and chief officers of 11 national government agencies namely; Department of Agriculture(DA), Philippine National Police-Maritime Group (PNP-MG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

To ensure the sustainability of this initiative, Tan said, the LGU of Tangub conducts weekly monitoring of the Bay. (DA-BFAR)