Fisheries Code legalizes rise of aquaculture – fisherfolk group
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday blamed the Fisheries Code of 1998 for the proliferation of privately-owned vast aquacultures in the Philippine waters.
Corporate takeover of the country’s fishing waters is done through the Fisheries Code’s Foreshore and Fishpond Lease Agreement (FLA) which allows an individual to lease and occupy up to 50 hectares of fishing waters, while commercial fishing firms up to 250 hectares for 25 years and renewable for another 25 years.
Citing Laguna de Bay as an example, the fisherfolk group said the 90-thousand hectares brackish lake has been occupied by vast-tracts of fish pens for years depriving small fisherfolk of their common fishing resources.
“Nothing has to blame but this 19-year old fisheries law for the proliferation of wide aquacultures in our fishing waters. The growing number of aquacultures in the Philippine waters causes overcrowding, exploitation and pollution of our rich fishing grounds. The granting of foreshore and fishpond lease contracts to big aquaculture firms must stop,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA reiterated its call for the rapid demolition of vast-tracts of fish pens in Laguna de Bay in line with the government’s anti-fish pen campaign, but also said it should be raised into a national ordinance.
“The government should raise its anti-fishpen campaign in a national level so that our fishing waters that have been occupied by wide aquaculture structures for years could have time to restore back to its ecological balance,” Hicap said.
The Fisheries Code of 1998 will turn 19th year on February 24. The fisherfolk all over the country prepares for a nationally-coordinated protest on the said date to demand the scrapping of the amended Fisheries Code and call for a new fisheries reform law. ###