Pinoy Fishers Return From Panatag Shoal With Huge Catch Of Fish

Fishermen from Pangasinan returned home early Saturday with a huge load of big species of fish they caught from Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, after they were allowed to fish inside the lagoon for first time in four years.

A report on GMA News said some fishermen from Pangasinan arrived with their huge catch early Saturday morning after days of fishing inside the shoal beginning Wednesday night.

They showed their "brimming" boats with the catch of black and orange lapu-lapu fish, bakalaw, tanigue, and damas o bisugong bato, among other species of fish.

GMA News quoted the returning fishermen as saying that they were surprised when finally on Wednesday evening no Chinese Coast Guard vessel blocked them upon their approach at the entrance of the shoal.

"Noong Martes, sinubukan naming pumunta sa Scarborough Shoal (called Kalburo in the locality) pero hinarang kami ng Chinese Coast Guard vessels," said Gilbert Rovinna, the skipper of F/B Rovinna fishing boat.

He said, they tried again to go near Wednesday evening and they were surprised the Chinese did not stop them until they got inside the lagoon and dropped anchors there.

Gilbert and his companions thought that the sudden change in the coast guard's behevior could be a result of President Rodrigo Duterte's talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the report said.

Also, they said that they are happy to be back at the shoal because fish is abundant in the fishing ground, especially in the west side part of the lagoon.

Noel Daruca, Gilbert's companion said that when they came to the shoal on Tuesday, the Chinese Coast Guard met them at the opening of the lagoon and told them that the Philippine President talked to their President. But the coast guard personnel said "go!go!go!"

Then they tried their luck Wednesday evening. No Chinese blocked them so they proceeded into the lagoon.

Only a small Chinese Coast Guard vessel is left inside the lagoon, the report quoted the fishermen as saying.

On Friday, MalacaƱang confirmed that Chinese Coast Guard men were no longer chasing Pinoy fishermen away from shoal.

"Also on regarding fishing in Scarborough Shoal, for the past three days it has been observed that there are no longer any Chinese Coast Guard vessels and that Filipino fishing boats are no longer being intercepted and that they are now able to fish in the area without being intercepted," presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said at a news briefing in MalacaƱang on Friday.

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