Fisherfolk stormed BFAR’s National Fisheries Industry Summit

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Fisherfolk stormed BFAR’s National Fisheries Industry SummitIMAG0433.jpg

Manila, Philippines – Hundreds of fisherfolk from Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipi nas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) on Wednesday stormed the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)’s first ever “National  Fisheries Industry Summit” at the Philippine Trade and Training Center (PTTC) in Pasay City.

The fisheries summit which was held on February 3-5 will present the BFAR’s Comprehensive National Fisheries Industry Development Plan (CNFIDP) for 2016-2020.

But the fisherfolk group denounced this seemingly fisheries development plan of the BFAR, saying implementation of this will only escalate and worsen the decade-poverty among fisherfolk. According to Pamalakaya’s critique on the CNFIDP, this program will promote fisheries production based on export and local fish consumption depending on import.

For the long years, the BFAR is only implementing fisheries law based on the demands from the international market. From 1994 up to the present, our marine products exports rose to 120%. On the year 2013 alone, the country has exported a total of 333, 465 metric tons of marine products to the international market. Majority of our exports went to the European Union (EU), United States and Japan amounting $808.8 worth of marine products on the year 2012 alone.

This marine exportation influx is despite the country’s 15% local fish consumption loss yearly.

The country’s long-time reliance on export and import is killing our local fish production and producers. We are exporting fresh and first-class marine products while importing putrescent fish products in return.” Salvador France, Pamalakaya vice-chairperson said in a statement.

Privatization Trojan horse

Also included in the five year fisheries “development plan” is to create a task force to forge the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects towards more effective, transparent and accountable regulatory schemes.

But for Pamalakaya, this privatization scheme is meant to privatize services that are supposed to be for the fisherfolk like the fish landings, fish ports and fish markets. The CNFIDP will even allot P15.473B for the maintenance of those private fish ports and fish landing areas.

Instead of providing those services to the fisherfolk to improve the fishing production and trades, the BFAR wants to make profit out of it by selling the services to the private sectors.” France said.

Militarism

It is also notable that on the priority of the CNFIDP is to allot a P6.646B (equivalent to BFAR’s 2016 budget) for the military and defense of the agency. The fund is for buying patrol boats, “whiteships”, airplanes and drones to fight foreign harassments and against fish operators who will violate the amended Fisheries Code of 1998.

This funding for militarism is beyond the agency’s mandate! We believe that these billions of pesos will become source of corruption of those unscrupulous BFAR officials. We also fear its implications to the security of the fisherfolk.”

It is very apparent that the CNFIDP, hiding behind its theme “global competitiveness of Philippine fishery products” is just another face of foreign-dominated anti-fisherfolk scheme, promoting and widening the foreign and private control on our fishing industry and seas.

“The CNFIDP is contrary adverse to the demands and interest of the fisherfolk, local fish producers and Filipino people and this five year plan will not answer the decade-poverty of the sector; thus needs to be scrapped.” France said.

Pamalakaya stands with their call for a genuine land and fisheries reform that is based on pro-people modernization, interests and welfare of the fisherfolk and the people. ###

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