On UN’s World Food Day, fishers cry over empty nets and perpetual hunger
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) together with the peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) staged a protest in front of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on the occasion of the United Nation’s (U.N.) World Fisheries Day.
The World Food Day is celebrated every October 16 after the UN established the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) on the same day in 1981.
The farmers and fishers dubbed the occasion as a World Hunger Day to refute the UN’s declaration. The protesters said this is the irony of the century for the food producers; the fishers and farmers are the ones who suffer from chronic hunger and poverty. Two of the country’s food producers are on the top list of the country’s poorest sector; with the fisherfolk as the poorest with 39.2% poverty rate while farmers with 34%, according to Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
The fisherfolk group pinned the foreign-dictated neo-liberal policies that further the backwardness and exacerbated the export-oriented and import-dependent character of our fishing industry to the detriment of small fishers and other local food producers. Since we are introduced to neo-liberal schemes like World Trade Organization (WTO) and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), our marine export has dramatically risen to 120% since 1994 up to present. This is despite the country’s 15% local fish stock loss yearly, according to UNFAO.
The era of neo-liberalization has triggered the exploitation and depletion of global fish stocks. Since the formalization of WTO, the FAO reported that 52 percent of the global fish stocks were fully exploited or depleted, 20 percent were moderately exploited and only 1 percent showed signs of recovery.
Also to blame on the poverty situation of the fisherfolk are the rampant reclamation and conversion of fishing waters and coastal communities that efface fishers and coastal people from their livelihood. Currently, there are more than one hundred reclamation and conversion projects impending on our coastal communities. This will demolish thousands of fishers and urban poor families from their houses.
“Decades under the neo-liberalization rule make us go home with empty nets and experience perpetual hunger. It promotes privatization and plunder of our seas,”
“Unless we are disentangled from all these one-sided economic treaties, food producers will remain food insecure. Hence, together with the farmers and other food producers, we gather this day not to celebrate but to declare this day as a world hunger day and air our just demands for right to food and livelihood,” Fernando Hicap, Pamalakaya Chairperson said. ###