By Alvin Murcia (Daily Tribune)
A fisherfolk group is strongly opposing the proposed amendment on the Republic Aact 8550, also known as the Fisheries Code of 1988, because it is disadavantageous to their sector.
This is according to the activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).
According to Pamalakaya secretary general Romy Antazo, the small fisherfolks are much affected in the proposed amendment of the Fisheries Code rather than the big commercial fishing companies.
He said adding more teeth to the said code will not make a dent to the big players in their sectors but their sector because of additional taxes that would be a big burden to them.
The Pamalakaya official said that even the current Fisheries Code is designed to make the fisherfolk poorer thus, the poorest sector in the country is still the fisherfolk sector and poverty is very much extreme in fishing villages all over the country.
Antazo said the proposed amendment on the anti-fisherfolk law is not the solution to uplift the lives of small fisherfolks all over the country thus they are calling for its abolition and the passage of a new genuine fisheries law.
According to Antazo, the proposed amendment on the law only means excessive fees and taxations to small fisherfolks who can’t even catch enough fish to cover their daily expenses because of the high cost of fuel that eats up 80 percent of their production costs.
He said there are also different fees collected from small fisherfolks by local government units and under the current Fisheries Code, small fisherfolks register their fishing boats and gears to the local government annually and are charged with corresponding fees.
Antazo said these are just some of the effects of the current Fisheries Code on small fisherfolks and it is clear that even the current law failed to raise the standard living of small fisherfolk.
Because of this, the group expressed concern over the propose amendment on the law because they believe that amending this law will only worsen the sorry situation of fisherfolk.
The Philippine Senate approved amendments on Fisheries Code last September 17 to comply with international conventions and avoiding a possible ban by the European Union (EU) on Philippine marine and fisheries products in the European Union market.
According to EU, the current law on fisheries does not have enough sanctions to fight the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing that’s why it should be amended and give more teeth to the law.