Manila, Philippines – Militant fisherfolk under Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday staged a protest in front of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to call for the repeal of the Fisheries Code of 1998 and its amendments.
In a statement, the PAMALAKAYA Vice-Chairperson Salvador France said that the poverty incidence in the fisherfolk sector arise due to the implementation of the Fisheries Code of 1998.
“We (fisherfolk) are 17 years of slave. The fisherfolk sector has the highest poverty incidence in the country due to this anti-fisherfolk law. Only those big and foreign fishing corporations have benefited from Fisheries Code.” France said.
PAMALAKAYA said since the Republic Act 8550 was enacted, big and foreign fishing corporations have dominated the fishing waters and fishing industry in the country.
“The commercial fishing corporations can enter even within the 15-kilometer municipal fishing water that is supposed to be for the small fisherfolks.” France said.
In Batangas, several commercial fishing vessels were capable of harvesting 100 tons of fish per operation even it is reserved for small fishermen within the 15-kilometer municipal fishing water. Operators of commercial fishing vessels said they are allowed to fish within the 10.1-15 kilometers under the 7-fathom rule as prescribed by the Fisheries Code.
PAMALAKAYA also said that thousands of fisherfolk families are being displaced from coastal communities because of the privatization of fishing waters through issuance of the Fishpond Lease Agreement (FLA). Through this FLA, the local government allows big businesses to occupy fishing waters for 25 years and also renewable for another 25 years at the expense of the fisherfolk’s livelihood.
Repeal not amend
The group said that amending the fisheries code will not eradicate the nation-wide poverty and hunger of small fisherfolk but rather, it will only worsen their sorry situation.
“Notorious zoning ordinance, excessive fees and repressive taxations, all these provisions will just worsen the situation of our small fisherfolk.” France said.
“Amendments of the 17-year old Fisheries Code will not work, and still the best way is to repeal all its provisions and enact a new and genuine fisheries reform law that will surely address the interest of the small fisherfolk.” France ended.
Salvador France, PAMALAKAYA Vice Chairperson – 0948-996-4477
Jam Pinpin, PAMALAKAYA Public Information Officer – 0942-274-5591