Out of the blue, Filipino fishers trooped BFAR, DENR on the occasion of World Fisheries Day
Manila, Philippines – On the occasion of the World Fisheries Day, fisherfolk from different regions under the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) yesterday trooped the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to protest their current situation under the existing fisheries laws and programs imposed by the said government agencies.
On 19-21 of November, fisherfolk leaders from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao gathered in Quezon City on a three-day National Fish Consultation on Coastal Resource Management to share their respective local issues and struggles in their fishing communities. Based on the issues shared by the delegates, widespread reclamation and conversion of fishing waters are prevalent all over the country. Also, they lamented the adverse effects of the amended Fisheries Code in their livelihood.
According to them, exorbitant fees and taxes are imposed even to the smallest fisherfolk who can’t even gain a sustainable income on a daily basis. Amended fisheries code does not actually prohibit commercial fishing vessels to go within the 15-kilometer municipal fishing zones but rather it further the corruption among the enforcers and local government units.
Also reported was the widespread reclamation and conversion of fishing waters that rampantly displace and demolish the fisherfolk from their coastal communities and livelihood. Under the guise of rehabilitation and safety from the danger zones, fisherfolk and poor families residing in the coastal communities are ejected from their houses to pave way for private infrastructures and government projects.
Under the government’s national campaign to resettle fishing communities away from the shore, thousands of fisherfolk and families are facing impending demolition and displacement from their source of livelihood and shelter. Through the government’s Resettlement Program which was adopted by the present administration, 40-50 meters of land away from the shoreline will be considered as danger zones, thus residing and dwelling will be prohibited while private and commercial infrastructures are allowed.
Current data showed that there are over 100 reclamation projects throughout the Philippine waters under the National Reclamation Plan (NRP) which was approved by then-President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino. Manila Bay acquires more than two-thirds of the reclamation plan under the framework of transforming the bay into International Gateway on which the country’s trades and exports will pass through its waters.
World Fisheries Day is celebrated every 21st day of November throughout the world by staging protests, workshops, forums, symposiums, cultural programs and other activities to highlight the importance of preserving and maintaining the ocean and marine resources. But for the Filipino fisherfolk, World Fisheries Day is the day of outrage and to counterpunch the persistent attacks of neoliberal policies driven by foreign and corporate dictates in the name of ocean and marine resource plunder.
The fisherfolk calls for the abrogation of the Fisheries Code of 1998 and all its amendments and come up with a new and genuine fisheries reform law that will address the plight of the poorest sector of the country. They also call for a genuine rehabilitation of marine resources and environment under the orientation of protecting the right to livelihood and communities of the fisherfolk. ###