Filipino fishers remain poorest under the 19-year old fishing rule
Manila, Philippines – As the Fisheries Code of 1998 turns 19 today, Filipino fisherfolk under the fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) slams the almost two decades fishing law as still the primary reason why their sector is still trapped in the shackles of extreme poverty.
In a protest held at Mendiola, Manila on Friday, hundreds of fisherfolk from different provinces in Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon regions expressed their outrage over the Fisheries Code’s failure to uplift their impoverished lives through modernization and government support as what the fishing law has promised.
“Now is the high time for the government to assess and sum up what significant help this fishing law has done to the fishing sector for 19 years. Even the government can’t deny and hide the prevailing poverty among the fisherfolk sector,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said during the protest.
Government data through the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) shows that highest poverty incidence manifests in the fishing sector, with 39.2 poverty rate or 2 out of 5 fisherfolk strive with P52 and below per day.
“How unfortunate that despite being an archipelagic country endowed with abundant marine resources, the sector that supposed to savor the wealth is the one who suffers from chronic hunger and poverty,” Hicap said.
PAMALAKAYA said Fisheries Code of 1998 has opened the flood gates for liberalization of our fishing waters through import-dependent and export-oriented fishing production while our country and the Filipino people suffer from food insecurity and hunger for decades without end.
“Fisheries Code has only adhered to the foreign-prescribed monopoly control over the fruits of our seas without actually advancing the rights of our fishers. This can be seen by the surge of our marine export where tons after tons of our marine harvests are being served in a silver platter overseas. This export oriented production has gradually depletes not only our domestic fish supply but also the fish stocks in the seas,” Hicap said.
The fisherfolk group said even the amendments of the Fisheries Code under Republic Act 10654 is dictated by foreign market under the guise of combating its so-called ‘illegal, unreported and unregulated’ (IUU) fishing but in reality, the real score is to limit and curtail the fishing activities of our small and municipal fishermen, while allow big local and foreign commercial fishing firms to plunder our seas.
The fisherfolk group calls for the scrapping of the amended Fisheries Code and is crafting for a genuine fisheries reform law which has the central objective of nationalizing the fishing waters and dismantling of big-local and foreign fishing firms’ monopoly control over our fishing waters. ###