Caraga fishers trooped BFAR central office to protest Fisheries Code, marine sanctuary in the region
Manila, Philippines – Around 60 fisherfolk from the Caraga Region XIII under the banner of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday protested the amended Fisheries Code of 1998 before the central office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as part of their month-long protest camp in Manila dubbed as “Lakbayan Laban sa Kagutuman at Karahasan”.
The fisherfolk from Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte said since the Fisheries Code has been amended last 2015 through the Republic Act 10654, various fees and heavy taxations are being charged on them by the local government unit (LGU).
Biased fishing rules and regulations are strictly enforced by the LGU only to the municipal fishermen while it pays no attention to the illegal entry of large-scale commercial fishing fleets within the 15-kilometer fishing waters designated for small-fishermen.
“The amended Fisheries Code mounts many fishing rules and policies. It includes registration and licensing of our boats and fishing gears. The boat registration itself costs us almost P2,000 which is already a burden for small-earner fishermen like us,”
“And if we fail to comply with the strict standards, we will be categorized as “illegal fishers” and will be subjected to hefty fines and harsh penalties like confiscation of fishing gears and worst, imprisonment,” Leopoldo Pelinta, PAMALAKAYA-Surigao del Norte Spokesperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA laid down to the BFAR central office their demand to declare moratorium on some of the provisions of the amended fisheries code, including the heavy taxations, registration and licensing program of the bureau.
“Ever since the Fisheries Code was enacted, it shows how biased it is to the commercial fishing vessels owned by influential politicians and individuals. The law consistently fails to prevent fishing expeditions of commercial fishing fleets within the municipal waters which according to the law itself, are allotted for the small fisherfolk who use traditional methods of fishing,”
“We travel all the way from Mindanao to Manila to state our worse condition under the existing fisheries law. We urge BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona to heed our sentiments and our demand to temporarily halt the implementation of the amended Fisheries Code be granted,” Pelinta added.
The fisherfolk also demanded to the bureau to lift the existing marine sanctuary in Surigao del Norte which covers almost 600 hectares of fishing waters for according to them, the sanctuary reduces the fishing area allotted to them. ###