Fisherfolk group demands aid to the zero-fishpen-affected fishworkers
Manila, Philippines – While it supports the government’s campaign to reopen the 90-thousand hectare-Laguna de Bay to small fisherfolk by dismantling vast-tracts of fish pens, the national fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) calls for immediate support to the fish workers employed in the corporate-owned fish pens that will be affected by the demolition of aquaculture structures.
PAMALAKAYA in a statement said those workers were once subsistence and small fishers that were forced to work in corporate-aquacultures due to fish catch depletion in open waters and lack of sufficient fishing gears. Workers in aquaculture are usually stay-in caretakers; they are the ones who maintain the structures, feeding until the harvesting of fish.
The fisherfolk group urges the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to determine the exact numbers of fish workers and fisherfolk directly involved in the aquaculture sector and mobilize immediate economic aid and relief to those who will be affected by the campaign.
“Enforcing the fishpen moratorium must be accompanied with preparation of economic aid and support to fish workers and other sectors that will get affected by the moratorium. Demolition of wide fish pens in Laguna de Bay will deal heavy blow to the fish workers directly employed in the aquaculture industry,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Aside from economic relief, they also need a livelihood support like boats and fishing gears in order for them to return to their traditional fishing activities since fish culture will be prohibited for one year.
The fisherfolk group urged the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to mobilize its boat distribution projects to the Laguna de Bay fishers.
“Although the BFAR does not have jurisdictions over Laguna de Bay, it is their obligation to support the fisherfolk on their livelihood regardless of what fishing water they belong,” Hicap said.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has started ejecting wide fish pens since January in line with the national order to get rid of corporate-owned aquacultures in the once communal fishing ground. PAMALAKAYA and environmental group Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) lauded the campaign for this will bring back the common fishing grounds of small fisherfolk. ###