Fishing restrictions, commercial intrusion impair municipal fish output – group
Manila, Philippines – Due to irreverent intrusion of large scale commercial fishing vessels within the municipal fishing waters plus the baseless declaration of fishing restrictions, municipal fishing production slows down according to the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Tuesday.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has recently released its Fisheries Situationer 2016 which shows that municipal fisheries output was reduced by 6.47 percent with the volume of 1.14 million metric tons during the said year.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said the loss of municipal fish output is mainly cause by the entry of giant fishing fleets weighing 3 gross tons and above within the 15-kilometer municipal fishing zone that is allotted for the municipal fishers.
“Big commercial fishing fleets usually owned by local and foreign corporations easily exploit fish stocks in the municipal waters because they possess high-tech and sophisticated fishing technologies compared to the backward fishing gear of municipal fisherfolk. Commercial intrusion results to fish catch depletion, leaving nothing to the small fisherfolk,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Municipal ordinances in line with the national fishing law which is the amended Fisheries Code of 1998 allow the commercial fishing vessels to have access to the municipal waters through the 7-fathom rule. Even if the Fisheries Code states that commercial fishing weighing 3 gross tons and above is not allowed to enter the 15-kilometer municipal waters, they may if the depth within the municipal waters reaches 7 fathoms and above, a provision that is also stated in the law.
The fisherfolk group also laments the unjustified fishing restrictions imposed on different coastal municipalities which the objective is to limit and curtail the fishing activities of municipal fisherfolk. In Palawan, the provincial government ordered a two-series of annual open-closed fishing seasons in all its coastal municipalities through the Administrative Order No. 5 Series of 2014.
“Since the Fisheries Code was amended on early 2015, unjust fishing rules like size restrictions, catch ceiling limitations and fishing registration schemes were implemented in some major coastal areas in the country. Some of the municipal fishers have lost their interest in the sea due to these strict fishing rules accompanied with heavy taxations and fines,”
“These fishing restrictions deprive municipal fishers of their fishing rights. Small-fishers are already enduring the marine-catch depletion due to the deteriorating marine environment and now the absurd fishing-rules under the current national fishing law exacerbate their suffering. We demand these oppressive fishing rules to stop, or to be temporarily suspended at the minimum because these are counter-productive for our fishing production, a threat to our domestic food security and most of all, it gradually kills the fishing sector particularly the municipal and subsistent fisherfolk,” Hicap ended. ###