SAN FERNANDO CITY – Godofredo Lacaden and his team of fishermen sailed to the west Philippine Sea at four o'clock in the morning last October. The
destination was the payao belt (fish aggregating device) some 60 kilometers away from the shore of Sta. Lucia Ilocos Sur.

Four hours later in the high sea, the group finally has a quarry: a large yellow fin tuna which toughly struggled to free itself from the fishermen's hook. But it's the end of the line for the 63-kilo tuna which succumbed to exhaustion and was brought up the boat at ten in the morning. In Ilocos Sur around the same date, the Dirique Fishermen's Association headed by Domingo de la Torre, likewise caught a 51-kilo yellow fin tuna at the deep sea payao belt off Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte. The two fish won the first and second prices in the contest recently held by the BFAR Ilocos Region, said
Remely Lachica, planning officer of the office.

But bigger catch have been recorded by the BFAR at the payao belts, including an 80-kilo yellow fin tuna caught in Ilocos Sur days before the contest was
announced, she said.The BFAR has established 47 shallow payao belts and 15 deep sea payao belts at the sea space of the Ilocos Region."It's a 5-5-deployment plan for the shallow payao belts," BFAR Ilocos Regional Director Nestor

Domenden said. This means the belts are placed five kilometers away from the shore and after every five kilometers in the Lingayen Gulf and the West Philippine Sea. They are mainly for the small fishing boats. On the other hand, the deep sea payao belts are located 60-70 kilometers away from the shore and are established for the bigger fishing boats.This is how idea behind the payao belts: Tame the fish. Give them shelter where they can reproduce in peace. When the fish have grown big, catch them using hook and line."The payao belts make it easier and less expensive for fishermen from the Ilocos Region harvest fish in the vast sea," Domenden said.

The BFAR planned to establish 101 units of payao starting from Infanta in Pangasinan to north most part of the Ilocos Norte, agency Regional Director Nestor Domenden said.In addition, 15 units would be established at the Panatag Shoal.The fish amass at the payao area so the fishermen spend less time, effort and gasoline going around the sea hunting for the fish."But the fishermen can only use the line method so that the payao won't be destroyed and would have longer life, he said. The payao is made of rope, stone which serves as anchor, coconut fronds and buoys. The BFAR is deploying payaos at shallow areas or five kilometer from the shoreline and in the deep or 60-70 kilometers from the shoreline.The shallow payaos have a distance of five kilometers from each other.

"It's a five-five-five deployment plan," Domenden said. The BFAR has deployed 11 shallow payao in Ilocos Sur, seven in Ilocos Norte, six in La Union and five
in Pangasinan. The deep payao belt are in Ilocos Norte (five), Ilocos Sur (five) and La Union (five). Domenden said the program suffered delay because the BFAR had to fabricate buoys with embossed markings BFAR, Philippines. He said this is to avoid theft of the buoys. "If lost and is found anywhere in the world, it would be known that it belongs to the BFAR," he said.(YZS)

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