Fisherfolk New Year’s wish to PNoy: Repeal the Fisheries Code and its amendments
Manila, Philippines – “All we want for this holiday season is to repeal the 17-year old Fisheries Code of 1998 and all its amendments because this is the cause of the decade-poverty among fisherfolk.” This was according to the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) in celebration of the Yuletide season and before the year ends.
Pamalakaya said that the fisherfolk can’t rejoice the spirit of Christmas as they still remain the poorest of the poor. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) (then NSCB), the fisherfolk sector has the highest poverty incidence in the country with 39.2% poverty rate.
The fisherfolk group said this was due to the 17-year old anti-fisherfolk law that made the Filipino fisherfolk sank into deep poverty and made their sorry condition even worst. Through the Fisheries Code, large commercial fishing fleets that are based on export can go in and out of the municipal fishing waters that are supposed to be for the small fisherfolk. The law only legalizes the exploitation and monopolization of our fishing waters.
Now the amendments of the Fisheries Code just worsened the fisheries law because these raised the fines and taxes on their so called “illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishers”. Pamalakaya said that it will be a struggle for the small fisherfolk to shoulder the hefty fines ranging from P5,000 and above when they can’t comply with the law.
“The Fisheries Code amendments didn’t fail to “add a fang” to the law; not to the real exploiters of our seas but to the small fisherfolk and other local producers through its strict fishing conditions and requirements.” Salvador France, Pamalakaya Vice-Chairperson said in a statement.
“We all still feel the spirit of Christmas and it is not yet the end for President Aquino to atone all his sins to the fisherfolk. Hear our demands for once and let the fisherfolk have a prosperous New Year. Stop all the anti-fisherfolk projects and programs which are destructive to our seas and to the livelihoods of the fishers. Repeal the 17-year old law that is very detrimental to the Filipino fisherfolk, and enact a new fisheries law that will promote our local production and fishing industry, and will uplift the lives of the Filipino fishers.” France ended.