BFAR greets Batangas fishers with Unmerry Christmas
Lemery, Batangas – The municipal chapter of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) in Lemery, Batangas laments the 2-month fishing ban in Balayan Bay that will start on November 19 to December, saying it would affect thousands of fisherfolk from 7 municipalities situated along the bay.
The 2-month closed season in Balayan Bay is imposed every year since 2014 under the provision of the Fisheries Code of 1998 to declare closed season in order to rehabilitate the marine resources now depleting due to overfishing.
Batangas fisherfolk said the fish ban is now on its third year and it consecutively affects the livelihood of the thousands of fisherfolk who depends on Balayan Bay on a day to day basis. Every time the fish ban is imposed, not even alternative livelihood or economic subsidies are offered to the affected fisherfolk, making their families hungry and suffer for the whole Christmas season.
“Yearly, we are devastated by this closed season for the two months of not able to fish is equivalent to two months of not able to eat. So ironic that this is the season of giving but we are deprived of our basic economic right which is our right to livelihood and to have at least simple feast with our family on Christmas and New Year’s Eve,” Rico Mortel, Spokesperson of PAMALAKAYA’s Samahan ng Mangingisda sa Baybayin ng Lemery (SAMBAL) said in a statement.
Batangas fishers said commercial fishing fleets with high-tech fishing gears are still operational inside the declared-closed season.
PAMALAKAYA deplores the irrational fish ban and lashes out at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for its wanton fish ban declarations in many parts of the country’s fishing grounds. The fisherfolk group said many more fishing waters are subject to total fishing ban like in Ragay Gulf in Region V and other major fishing grounds in the archipelago.
“BFAR’s closed season campaign is an open declaration of war against our small fisherfolk while providing tenderness to the big commercial ones. Under the guise of rehabilitation and conservation of marine resources, BFAR prevents municipal fisherfolk from fishing in their traditional fishing grounds while turning a blind eye into large commercial fishing fleets’ irreverent entry into the declared fishing ban in the municipal waters,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA said the real score behind the unjust closed seasons is for the commercial fishers to exploit and proceed within the 15-kilometer municipal fishing waters that are intended for the use of the small municipal-fishermen.
“The continuing closed season on our major fishing grounds will be met with oppositions from the fisherfolk all over the country. We urge the BFAR to unconditionally lift the closed season in Balayan Bay and in the rest of the country for our fishers to continue their production and livelihood,” Hicap ended. ###