Fisheries Code turns 18 | Fisherscalls for its scrapping anew
Manila, Philippines – Hundreds of fisherfolk under the fisherfolk alliancePambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas(Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) today stormed the office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in the anniversary of the Fisheries Code of 1998.
Pamalakaya lamented that the Filipino fisherfolk have sufferedirreversible pauperization under this fisheries law. Since the fisheries law came to picture, local and foreign large fishing firms like the Frabelle Group of Companies, Ocean and Light Fishing, Mar Fishing etc. indulged themselves in the country’s rich fishing grounds. All the marine products produced by these fishing firms are served to the foreign market in a silver platter. Meanwhile, the small fisherfolk and local producers who produce marine products for domestic consumption are in throe due to this export-oriented policy.
Fisherfolk who joined the anti-fisheries code protest were from Batangas, Cavite, Rizal, Muntinlupa and Navotas, all calling for the repeal of the 18-year old Fisheries Code.
The fisherfolk group said that the Fisheries Code is under the framework of fish production for export and fish consumption dependent on import. The country’s fish export rose to 120% since the Fisheries Code was enacted. On 2012 alone, the countryhas exported a total of $808.8-worth of marine products to the international market, mainly to the United States, Japan and European Union. This is despite the country’s 15% fish shortage annually (according to UN-FAO). Likewise, the country’s marine import also rose to 120% within the last 17 years.
“This is no fair trade we’re talking about. This export-oriented and import dependent policy exports first-class marine products,meanwhile importing putrescent marine products to balance scarcity. This neoliberal scheme pose a huge threat to our food security and sustainability, killing our local producers, especially our small-fisherfolk.” Salvador France, Pamalakaya vice-chairperson said in a statement.
Pamalakaya also slammed the newly amended Fisheries Code for it reinforces the oppressive capacity and power of the law. Under the amended fisheries law,bigger taxes and penalties are to be shouldered by fisherfolk who will commit illegal forms of fishing that violates the said law. The taxes and penalties will range from P20, 000 up to P20 million for the municipal fisherfolk and commercial fishers.
BFAR boasts that more than 200 apprehensions were made in just some months after the amendments lapsed into law.
“Sa Batangas, nararanasan na ng mga mangingisda ang mapanupil na epekto nitong bagong Fisheries Code. Hinuhuli ang mga mangingisda na pumapasok sa itinakdang ‘Marine Sanctuary’ ng BFAR. Kung hindi sila makapagbayad ng kaukulang multa, kumpiskasyon ng kanilang kagamitan at anim na buwang pagkakakulong ang kapalit.” Lino Baez, Spokesperson of Haligi ng Batanguenong Anakdagat (HABAGAT) said.
Pamalakaya vows to raise their level of resistance against this 18-year old fisheries law.
“We’ve had enough. This anti-fisher law will meet its end in our hands. Indifferent provinces and regions, we willgathered into the streets and fishing grounds to meet this law with intensified resistance and resolve to call for its abrogation. Now is the time to repeal this 18-year old Fisheries Code and sign a new and genuine fisheries law that is based on the aspiration and socio-economic, political interests of the fisherfolk and the Filipino people.” France ended. ###