Google map of Sibutu town, Tawi-Tawi.

ZAMBOANGA CITY–Military and coast guard personnel have arrested seven fishermen engaged in illegal fishing in the waters of Tawi-Tawi province over the weekend, officials said Monday.

Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., commander of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said the fishermen were arrested Saturday in the waters of Barangay Taungoh in Sibutu, Tawi-Tawi.

Vinluan said the fishermen were arrested after Mayor Alsheefa Pajiji reported to the 312th Marine Company-Sibutu Detachment “the ongoing dynamite fishing in their municipality”.

Vinluan said the marine troops immediately coordinated with the Tactical Operations Squadron of the Philippine Air Force and Philippine Coast Guard Sub-Station in Sibutu and conducted a seaborne patrol in Taungoh waters that resulted in the arrest of the seven fishermen and the confiscation of several illegal fishing paraphernalia.

He identified the arrested individuals as Namli Romas, 28; Balli Kengli, 30; Misganda Solomon, 25; Namli Laja, 19; Herman Sayjuwan, 25; Laja Batuk, 20; and Uwang Sayjuwan, 30. They are all residents of Sitangkai municipality, Tawi-Tawi.

Col. Arturo Rojas, commander of the Joint Task Force Tawi-Tawi, said the arresting team seized from the fishermen several improvised dynamites (bungbung), six detonators, and nine double-engine indigenous motorboats.

“They are conducting illegal fishing in the south side of Sibutu to hide from the authorities and return to Sitangkai undetected,” Rojas said.

Vinluan urged residents of coastal towns and island municipalities to immediately report to authorities any illegal fishing activity in their area.

“The military does not only focus on ending terrorism and violent extremism but, we also conduct law enforcement operations together with our counterparts to curb the illegal activities such as smuggling and illegal fishing in our area of operation,” Vinluan added. (PNA)