Proposed BFAR budget for aquaculture questioned
Manila, Philippines – The national fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) questions the proposed budget for aquaculture of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for fiscal year 2020.
On the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for the year 2020, P43.7 billion will be allotted to the Department of Agriculture (DA), while P5.9 billion will be dispensed to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), an agency under the DA.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA questioned the P520.2 million under BFAR’s budget that will be allotted to the aquaculture program.
“Why would the BFAR allot such a huge chunk of its national budget for the program that will further privatize the fishing waters? Only big-fishing firms are capable of investing in aquaculture because they have capital and means to operate the industry, and yet they are the ones that seem to enjoy state support over the small fisherfolk who are being robbed of their traditional fishing grounds by big aquafarms,”
“We demand an explanation from BFAR on why the budget for aquaculture is more than twice bigger than the budget for the capture fisheries which has only P215.8 million,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
Hicap, a fisherman in Manila Bay, asserted that there is an “urgent need to promote the municipal fisherfolk engaged in capture fisheries because of poor and backward fishing production,”
The fisherfolk leader also noted that municipal fisheries production in the year 2018 registered a decline of 1.78% or an estimated 1.11 million metric tons compared to the preceding year’s production of 1.13 million metric tons. Meanwhile, bulk of the total fisheries output in the said year came from aquaculture with 52.95%. Moreover, Hicap added, BFAR should put priority to open-sea fishing, given that our country is endowed with fishing grounds seven-fold than our land territory, and that a foreign country has already locked target on our marine resources.
“Napakalayo ng pagitan ng produksyon ng pangisdaang munisipal sa produksyon ng akwakultura. Nangangahulugan ito na lubhang apektado ang kabuhayan ng mga munisipal na mangingisdang nakaasa sa tradisyunal na pamamaraan ng pangingisda. Kami ang mas nangangailangan ng suportang gubyerno bilang kami rin ang kumakatawan sa pinakamahihirap na sektor ng ating lipunan,” Hicap, former Anakpawis Partylist Representative added.
“Pansamantala at pang-alternatibo lang sana ang akwakultura dahil sa bumababang huli sa mga munisipal na pangisdaan. Pero sa panukalang pondo pa lamang ng BFAR, malinaw na pumipihit ang pamahalaan sa industriyang ito habang hinahayaang naghihingalo ang industriya ng mga maliliit na mangingisda,” Hicap added.
The fisherfolk group said BFAR should reconsider its budget proposal and urged the agency to advance and promote the welfare and livelihood capability of small fisherfolk. ###