DAVAO CITY—Coastal residents along the country’s entire eastern seaboard have been advised to keep away from harm’s way as South Korea was expected to launch its space rocket, cruising on a path that includes the eastern coast side of the Philippines.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) also said it would employ improved radar imaging system in its monitoring of illegal foreign fishing vessels on the other side of the Philippines, the West Philippine Sea.
BFAR said the space rocket “Nuri” of South Korea Aerospace Research Institute was scheduled for launch on Thursday. However, the BFAR advisory said there might be delays caused by weather and wind conditions and delayed launch period would be between October 22 and October 28.
“Please stay away from and avoid fishing and other offshore activities in areas which may be affected by the launching of space rocket, ‘Nuri’ on October 21,” the BFAR advisory said. It said it got the advisory from the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA).
The PhilSA advisory said areas at risk were the offshore waters 730 kilometers from Sta. Ana, Cagayan and 383 kilometers from Tandag, Surigao del Sur. These areas were among the identified drop zones within the country’s territorial waters.
“As per PhilSA report, the launch may cause the danger of falling rocket debris for ships, aircraft, and other vehicles that will pass through the identified drop zones. The rocket debris may also wash offshore towards the eastern seaboard in the future,” it said.
Based on the recommendation of the PhilSA, the BFAR “advises all fishing vessels to stay away from the affected area and avoid fishing and other offshore activities from 2 p.m.-6:30 p.m. on the identified locations and their corresponding coordinates.”
The BFAR said, however, that the PhilSA has reported that the risk of rocket debris falling over the Philippine landmass was “minimal.”
Nevertheless, it said, “coastal residents near the affected areas are advised to be on the lookout for floating debris that may wash ashore days, weeks, or even months after the launch”.
BFAR also said it would now use the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images to reinforce monitoring and analysis of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing within the Philippine territorial waters and exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).
It said it has been monitoring the presence and movement in the WPS under its Fisheries Monitoring Center (FMC), which monitors and tracks activities of Philippine-flagged commercial fishing vessels, “including foreign vessels equipped with Automatic Identification System and detects fishing boats that employ lights to attract fish at night using the satellite-based tool, Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suites.
It maintained its FMC in the area following the directive of the National Task Force-WPS, and it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Police – Maritime Group to conduct joint seaborne patrol in Philippine seas, including the WPS.
It said Chinese maritime militia vessels were among the illegal fishing vessels in the area,
“These foreign vessels have no clearance from the Philippine government or any existing fisheries cooperation agreements with the country that allow them to conduct any fishing operations. Their fishing activities, therefore, are considered IUU fishing within the Philippine territorial waters and exclusive economic zone,” it added.
The DA-BFAR said it supported the Department of Foreign Affairs move to file new diplomatic protests against the continuous presence and activities of these foreign vessels.