Laguna Lake fishers cry over strict fishing rules under Fisheries Code
Binangonan, Rizal – Laguna Lake fishers from Binangonan, Rizal have deep-felt the weighty provision of the amended Fisheries Code of 1998. On August 24, 30 local members of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) from Brgy. Lunsad, Binangonan, Rizal were harassed by some unknown ‘enforcers’ aboard a fishing boats in Sta. Rosa, Laguna and told them that they have committed illegal entry thus their fishing equipments should be confiscated. The ‘enforcers’ confiscated 10 of their fishing equipments and warned them not to come back anymore. Each ‘enforcers’ were holding a radio telephone and told the fishers that they were accompanied by a police.
Pamalakaya said Laguna Lake fishers can catch fish anywhere in Laguna de Bay before. But they were surprised that all of a sudden, some law enforcers blocked them and accused them of illegal entry and illegal fishing.
This kind of incident is the result of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)’s scheme of transforming the small-fishermen into sea-militias running after their ilk.
“Now small fishers are trained to become law-enforcers running after one another. BFAR is making small fishers fight each another instead of uniting them for a utilization and maximization of our marine resources,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya Chairperson said in a statement.
Fishermen from other parts of the archipelago were also trained and armed to enforce the Fisheries Code of 1998 specifically to run after government’s so called ‘illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing’.
“First of all, BFAR doesn’t know what ‘illegal fishing’ is. On government’s standard, illegal fishers are the small-fishermen who use illegal methods of fishing like dynamite, cyanide et al., and those who surpass designated fishing zones under zoning ordinance of the Fisheries Code. But in reality, illegal fishers are the large commercial fishing fleets who go inside the 15-kilometer municipal fishing zone and exhaust its marine resources. They are the ones who exploit our seas causing the fish catch to dramatically decline,” Hicap said.
Pamalakaya criticized the BFAR Chief Eduardo Gongona for resorting into a militaristic approach in resolving illegal activities in the sea that target small fishermen instead of objectively analyzing on who the real illegal fishers are.
“We urge BFAR Chief Gongona to immediately stop arming the fishermen. Provide them adequate support like modernizing their fishing gears instead of weapons and ammunitions. Also, the Fisheries Code of 1998 fuels illegal activities in the sea so it should be repealed unconditionally and replace with a new and genuine fisheries law that will address the decades-old poverty among our fishing sector,” Hicap ended. ###