From fishing waters to the streets; a wave of protest have swept the streets on the occasion of the World Fisheries Day

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November 21, 2014

Manila, Philippines – Fisherfolk organizations from various parts of the country staged a nationally coordinated protest in different forms to observe World Fisheries Day. The protest was led by the left-leaning fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas). In Metro Manila, fisherfolk from Southern Tagalog and the National Capital Region, and other marginalized sectors gathered together in Mendiola, Manila.

Being the poorest of the poor in Philippine society, the fisherfolk clamored against widespread privatization, conversion and reclamation of fishing waters under the Aquino administration which causes massive displacement of coastal communities and the worsening hunger and poverty among the fisherfolk.

“Anti-people projects such as eco-tourism and eco-zone projects funded by foreign capital promote destruction of fisheries resources and violate the rights of small fisherfolk all over the country,” stated PAMALAKAYA Secretary General Romy Antazo.

The PAMALAKAYA official also pointed that the long-running Fisheries Code of 1998 failed to protect the rights and uplift the lives of small fisherfolk and the marine and inland environment from destruction by corporate interests.

“This Fisheries Code of 1998 does not eradicate poverty, hunger and dispossession of the almost 1.3 million poor fishermen in the country. It only worsened the plight of small fisherfolk 16 years since the law was enacted,” Antazo said.

According to PAMALAKAYA’s Batangas chapter Haligi ng Batanguenong Anakdagat (HABAGAT), under the Fisheries Code of 1998, many fishing areas in Batangas were declared as fish sanctuaries by the local government. These sanctuaries became main attractions of beach resorts while the fisherfolk are banned from going near these sanctuaries.

“The fisherfolk are being deprived of their only source of livelihood and much worse, they are displaced from their communities to give way to these eco-tourism projects. The Fisheries Code does not only kill fisherfolks’ livelihoods but also their lives in general,” Antazo said.

The group cited several projects that are highly inimical to small-scale fisheries including the Laguna Lake Master Plan which aims to convert Laguna Lake from productive fishing grounds into eco-tourism zones; the Manila Bay Master Development Plan that involves the privatization and reclamation of the bay; the widespread black sand mining in Cagayan Valley, Zambales, Eastern Visayas, Negros and Panay island; and the eco-tourism projects in Aurora and other parts of the archipelago.

“All these projects are under Aquino’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) which will displace poor fisherfolk from their communities. We, the small fisherfolk gathered together on this day, the World Fisheries Day, not to celebrate, but to rage against the present administration due to its incompetence and anti-people policies and demand genuine reforms on fisheries and aquatic resources.” Antazo ended. ###

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