Palawan fishers reject provincial fishing-regulation order
Puerto Princesa, Palawan – The provincial chapter of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) in Palawan opposes the provincial declaration on the “Guidelines for the Regulation and Monitoring of Catching, Culture, Trade, Transport and Export of Reef-Fish-For-Food in Palawan” also known as Administrative Order (AO) No. 5 Series of 2014.
According to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), the implementing agency of the AO, the regulation aims to “balance and conserve the province’s reef fish for food (RFF) from deterioration due to over extraction and habitat destruction” The RFF is any of the fish species found in corals and serves as primary source of food in the province.
Some of the major features in the AO are the following: 1) Species based regulation; 2) Open and Closed Season; 3) Size Restrictions; 4)Permitting System anchored from Wild Life Act; 5) Option to post bond; and 6) Monitoring and Enforcement Mechanisms. The open and closed seasons are declared twice a year, with the open season starts from January 1 to June 15 and September 1 to October 15; while the closed season is from June 16 to August 31 and October 16 to December 15.
In a statement, the Palawan-based PAMALAKAYA official said the administrative order aims to limit and curtail the fishing activities of small and municipal fishermen under the guise of preserving the marine environment.
“Don’t get us wrong. We know that marine species in Palawan are in peril but that’s because of irreverent intrusion of large-scale local and foreign commercial fishing fleets that exploit our fishing resources. Limiting the small fisherfolk from our fishing activities will do nothing to preserve Palawan’s dwindling fishing industry but it will inflict harm to our livelihood,” Ely Ruta, PAMALAKAYA Vice-Chairperson for Luzon said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group slammed the open-close season scheme for this will transform the small-municipal and subsistent fisherfolk into mere seasonal fishers.
“The open-close season fishing rule will turn us into mere seasonal fishers while on the other hand, our daily living necessary needs is not seasonal. And if we talk about the closed season per se, there is naturally closed-season in the seas every year during the Amihan or Northeast winds where it usually occurs for up to six months, not to mention the typhoon days or the sudden turbulent weather where we have no choice but to temporarily garage our boats,”
“We also lament this wildlife collector’s permit for this is another burden for the small fishers whose daily income does not even reach the decent standard of living. The once free profession just now got a price.” Ruta lamented.
In the permitting system, sectors involved in catching, trading, culturing/breeding, transporting and importing/exporting are obliged to get their permit in the PCSD with respective amounts and fees.
PAMALAKAYA said the size restrictions and catch ceiling limitation rule is highly absurd because the fisherfolk and its backward fishing gears are incapable of choosing the size and quantity of the fish will be caught into its net.
“This kind of fishing rule will push the fisherfolk to resort to illegal methods of fishing like the use of cyanide or compressor in order to comply with the exact size and amount of fish that the ordinance dictates,” Ruta said.
PAMALAKAYA said the administrative order is in compliance with the national mandate of the Fisheries Code of 1998 to limit and regulate fishing activities of small fishers while large commercial and destructive fishing fleets indulge over our fishing waters and its resources.
“We reiterate our call to scrap the amended Fisheries Code because it is anti-fisherfolk. Fisherfolk needs concrete livelihood support and not suppressive fishing laws and rules. Fishing waters should be for the Filipino people and small fishers, not for few local and foreign commercial fishing firms,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said.
The partial implementation of the AO was started last year while its full implementation including the open-close season will start this year. ###