Fisherfolk slams 2018 BFAR budget for aquaculture

Fisherfolk slams 2018 BFAR budget for aquaculture

Aquaculture farms | Photo by IRD

Manila, Philippines – Questioning why the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on its proposed 2018 budget parcels out fund for aquaculture program, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) said this questionable allocation is highly alarming and deserves a thorough scrutiny.

BFAR will get P5.9-billion budget next year, a 10% lower than the 2017 budget. P687.7-million of the said budget will be allotted for aquaculture program.

We want an explanation from the bureau of fisheries on why would they allot such huge chunk of their one-year budget to aquaculture. Will they invest their agency to this venture that will deprive municipal fisherfolk of their communal fishing grounds and facilitate the pollution of our seas? This budget could be used to other programs like mechanization and improvement of fishing technologies and equipments of small fisherfolk instead of using it for the bureau’s income generating profit,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.

Hicap says the group has been opposing aquaculture structures because it surrenders the communal fishing waters and resources to big-time fishing and aquaculture firms whose production is mainly based on export. The group also laments the slave-like condition of fish workers employed in aquaculture farms where they receive a monthly pay of P3, 000 – P3, 500 or an average daily pay of P100 to P150, way below the minimum wage set by regional wage boards for agricultural and non-agricultural workers.

For years now, we are calling to the bureau of fisheries to dismantle vast tracts of aquaculture structures in our fishing grounds, but our long standing demand always falls on deaf ears. Now BFAR seems to justify and legitimize the existence and proliferation of the industry that privatizes our fishing resources by portioning out its budget to aquaculture program,”

“We reiterate our demand to unconditionally dismantle aquaculture structures owned by giant fishing firms not only in Laguna de Bay but in the whole archipelago,” ended Hicap. ###

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