Fisheries Code turns 18 | Fisherfolk group assessed the adverse impact of the fisheries law
Manila, Philippines – Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) together with Reeling the Line, a broad alliance against Fisheries Code conducted its forum to assess how the 18 years of the Fisheries Code affects the fisherfolk, the food security and the Filipino people.
The said forum was held on March 4 at Missionaries of Sacred Heart (MSC) Scholasticate in New Manila, Quezon City.
Present on the forum were fisherfolk delegates from Batangas, Cavite, Rizal, Laguna, Navotas and Paranaque which shared their own experiences before and after the amendments was embedded to the Fisheries Code.
Within 18 years, the country’s marine import and export mainly to the United States, European Union (EU) and Japan has rose to 120%, jeopardizing the country’s local fish production and putting the fishers’ food security at stake.
“Before the Fisheries Code amendments were put into picture, fisherfolk were burdened by costly fines and taxes under its predecessor. Now the higher penalties and tighterrestrictions are hampering the impoverished fishers courtesy of the newly amended fisheries law.” Myrna Candinato, vice chairperson of Alyansa ng Magdaragat sa Cavite said in a statement.
The Fisheries Code amendments or the Republic Act 10654 was passed on February 2015 under the command of the EU which threatened to prohibit the country’s marine products to enter the EU market.
“In Batangas, fisherfolk are experiencing fishing gear confiscation, lofty fines and worst, imprisonment when they are accused of committing the so called ‘illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing’ (IUUF).” Lino Baes, spokesperson of Haligi ng Batanguenong Anakdagat (HABAGAT) said.
The amended fisheries code aims to deter and eliminate the IUU fishing, which according to its proponents is the reason for the food insecurity and livelihood unsustainability of the fishing sector in the country.
“The fisherfolk and other sectors gathered today to consolidate the effect of the 18-year old Fisheries Code. Based on the experiences and data shared by the fisherfolk leaders in different areas, it is clear that the fisheries code is a detriment to them, manifesting chronic hunger and widespread pauperism among their sector.” Salvador France, Pamalakaya vice-chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk delegates at the end of the forum vows to launch a series of protests and activities to expose the Fisheries Code of 1998 until totally abrogated.
“18 years of suffering is more than enough. Now is the right time to repeal this Fisheries Code and put into law a genuine fisheries reform that is based on the democratic aspiration of the fisherfolk and the people.” France ended.
Also on the forum were Anakpawis Partylist, students from MSC, Church People, women, youth, peasant and other sectors. ###