Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) challenged the incoming Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Director Eduardo Gongona to address and resolve the enduring poverty among the fisherfolk sector.
Incoming Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel Pinol had recently named Commodore Eduardo Gongona as the new BFAR Director.
Pamalakaya pinned the Fisheries Code of 1998 as the root source of poverty among fishers, saying that this national law have imposed hefty fines and absurd fishing rules that only large commercial fishers can comply. The law has also consistently handed over vast portions of the seas to landlords and corporations for money-making ventures like aquaculture, privatization, conversion and reclamation of fishing waters all at the expense of the tranquil lives of the fishers.
“We’ve had enough of this Fisheries Code; we are almost two-decade slave courtesy of this foreign-prescribed fisheries law. The Filipino fishers have long suffered from poverty, chronic famine and food insecurity since Fisheries Code was enacted,” Salvador France, Pamalakaya vice-chairperson said in a statement.
The Fisheries Code also fueled the surge of fish exportation which gradually depletes not only the fish stock in the market but also the fish stock in the seas.
“Overfishing and environmental degradation have been caused mainly by the incessant drive to increase exports of fish and sea products to the foreign market. Only the obstruction of this foreign-pressure on our waters can truly rehabilitate and rejuvenate our seas and ensure the sustainability of our fish production,” France said.
Pamalakaya asserts that this anti-fisherfolk law must be repealed and replace it with a new and genuine fisheries reform law that will uphold the fisherfolk’s access and rights to the Philippine waters and will substantially advance the cause of the Filipino fishers and the people.
“This is the first duty of incoming BFAR head Gongona; to junk the Fisheries Code and heed the democratic demands of the fisherfolk all over the country,” France ended. ###