‘Aquaculture Superpower’ hit, Senator Pangilinan lacks knowledge in fisheries –
Manila, Philippines – The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Friday chided Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan for his inaccurate statement on fisheries during his opening statement at the Public Hearing on the establishment of a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) at the Senate yesterday.
Sen. Pangilinan, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, said our country is capable of being an “Aquaculture Superpower” due to our ‘diverse’ fishing waters. He cited top fish exporting countries like France who earned 600 million Euros annually from their oyster and mollusk industry.
For its part, the fisherfolk group opposed the idea of converting our communal fishing waters into enclosed, private aquaculture oriented for export instead of promoting an open-fishing grounds based on domestic consumption.
“It seems Senator Pangilinan is not in touch with the reality. He is incognizant of the fact that our fishing industry is backward because of the import-dependent and export oriented production. The country’s long-time reliance on export and import kills our local fish production and small producers. We export fresh marine products served in a silver platter overseas while importing low-class, putrescent fish in return. Sino’ng lugi?” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya Chairperson and a former Anakpawis Partylist solon said in a statement.
Pamalakaya said country’s marine export has dramatically rose to 120% since 1994 up to present despite the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) report that our country losses 15% of fish consumption yearly.
Senator Pangilinan failed to mention that the anti-fisherfolk laws, programs and policies are the primary reason why our fisherfolk, despite being an archipelagic country remains poorest among the poor up to date, and not because of the absence of a fisheries department.
“We are not against the creation of a separate department for fisheries, but it should as well reorient its policies, laws and programs governing our fishing sector. Adaptation of the current fishing laws and policies won’t change anything but it will be another department hived by bureaucratic and corrupt officials making profit out of our poor fishers’ toil,” Hicap said.
The fisherfolk group calls for a comprehensive and holistic transformation and reorientation of the Bureau of Fisheries into a pro-fisherfolk agency by enacting a new and genuine fisheries reform law.
“We challenge Senator Pangilinan to live with the most depressed fishing community for a couple of months and experience how the sector are being exploited and oppressed by the fishing laws and policies with nil support from the government,” Hicap ended. ###