Fisherfolk wants moratorium on boat and fish registration scheme
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) calls for a temporary suspension of some of the provisions on the amended Fisheries Code of 1998 or Republic Act 10654, particularly the Boat Registration (BoatR) and Fisherfolk Registration (FishR), one of the new highlights in the amended Fisheries Code. The fisherfolk group said this is another burden for the small fisherfolk who barely earn enough to sustain their families’ daily expenses.
The BoatR, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is designed to fast-track and complete the nationwide fishing vessels registration with capacity of three gross tons (GT) and below while the FishR aims to register fisherfolk in the country to come up with a national database system.
Pamalakaya said under the BoatR and FishR, fisherfolk register their fishing boats and gears and even themselves to their respective municipal government annually with corresponding fees.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson Fernando Hicap, which is also a fisherman in Rosario, Cavite said he has paid at least P5, 000 for the registration of his fishing boat and other gears.
“This registration scheme is ridiculous and absurd. Why would the government require the fisherfolk and even their fishing gears to get registered? Fishing sector is the poorest in the country; they bear the brunt of commercial fishing proliferation and the decreasing income due to decreasing fish catch in the municipal fishing waters. What they need is concrete government support and aid, not another hefty fees and taxes,” Hicap said.
Hicap said this registration scheme is prone to corruption to local government and even officials.
“Local government units are empowered to impose exorbitant fees and regressive taxation in accordance with the Fisheries Code. Even before the registration scheme, fisherfolk were already paying different taxes and fees and it has become the milking cow and money making scheme of some local and national government officials,”
The fisherfolk group is gearing on a nationally coordinated protest on the 19th year anniversary of the Fisheries Code of 1998 on February 24 to call for the abrogation of the said law and push for a new and genuine fisheries reform law that will truly benefor the interest of the small fisherfolk. ###