Fisherfolk slams 2018 BFAR budget for aquaculture
Manila, Philippines – Questioning why the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on its proposed 2018 budget parcels out fund for aquaculture program, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) said this questionable allocation is highly alarming and deserves a thorough scrutiny.
BFAR will get P5.9-billion budget next year, a 10% lower than the 2017 budget. P687.7-million of the said budget will be allotted for aquaculture program.
“We want an explanation from the bureau of fisheries on why would they allot such huge chunk of their one-year budget to aquaculture. Will they invest their agency to this venture that will deprive municipal fisherfolk of their communal fishing grounds and facilitate the pollution of our seas? This budget could be used to other programs like mechanization and improvement of fishing technologies and equipments of small fisherfolk instead of using it for the bureau’s income generating profit,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Fisherfolk group demands probe on the beating of Batangas fishers
Manila, Philippines – The nationwide alliance of fisherfolk Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Sunday urged the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Central Office to investigate the beating and harassment of Bantay Dagat (sea patrols) against six fishermen in Brgy. Papaya, Nasugbu, Batangas on July 17.
5 fisherfolk were badly hurt while one fisherman is still missing after they were harassed by a group of armed men identified as members of BFAR’s Bantay Dagat led by its Chief and also a Brgy. Chairman Marlon Limboc.
According to the report, while the 6 fishermen were on a fishing expedition, a group of armed men fired shots against their boats, held them and forced them to jump off the sea after being beaten by their captors.
According to PAMALAKAYA, this blatant abuse against the small fisherfolk who were only doing their livelihood is highly unacceptable and someone must be held accountable. The fisherfolk group believes that the recent maltreatment against the fishermen has something to do with the baseless strict fishing rule under the amended Fisheries Code that gives authority to Bantay Dagat to catch after their so-called “illegal fishers”.
Fisherfolk demands scrap of BFAR’s Bantay Laot Progam
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) calls for the scrapping of Bantay Laot Program, a law-enforcement program of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to curb its so-called illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
The Bantay Laot Program equips municipal fisherfolk with weapons to run after another fisherfolk who will engage in illegal fishing activities in the municipal waters. Illegal fishing by category of the government includes engaging in destructive fishing method like using of dynamite, cyanide, and other fishing gears categorized by government as destructive; not able to report the amount of fish catch to BFAR personnel; and fishing within the designated marine protected areas and fish sanctuaries. These new fishing rules are under the amendment Fisheries Code or the Republic Act 10654.
Bantay Laot Program serves as prerequisite of fisherfolk to have access on BFAR’s cash and livelihood assistance. On Sunday, BFAR Region 11 gave cash incentives amounting from PHP1,000 to PHP2,000 to 578 fisherfolk in 23 barangays in Davao City to hire them as sea watchers. PAMALAKAYA estimates that more than 1,000 fisherfolk this year have been registered to Bantay Laot Program, majority of those are in Mindanao.
For PAMALAKAYA, this militaristic approach to resolve illegal fishing activities will create rift between small fisherfolk who will be obliged to run and catch after one another. The fisherfolk group said BFAR’s assistance should be no condition especially if it involves violence among small fisherfolk.
“BFAR is creating rift between small fisherfolk instead of uniting them to protect and utilize the fishing waters to promote domestic food security. Creating water militia will likely cause vigilantism and lawlessness in the sea. It is the utmost duty of the government forces in the first place to protect the livelihood of small fisherfolk both from local and foreign commercial fishing vessels that actually exploit the waters through unwarranted fishing expedition,”
Fisherfolk welcomes seed distribution in Laguna de Bay, calls to pursue fishpen demolition
Manila, Philippines – The national fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday acknowledged the government’s dispersal of 5 million fingerlings in Laguna de Bay through the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). The restocking of native fish species in the 90-thousand hectare brackish lake is part of the government’s campaign to rehabilitate inland waters such as lakes and rivers.
In a statement, the fisherfolk group said the seeding in Laguna de Bay is a welcome development for this will temporarily support the livelihood of small fisherfolk and fishworkers who were affected by the government’s campaign to demolish vast tracts of fish pens in the lake.
PAMALAKAYA together with environment alliance Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) raised the demand to distribute fingerlings to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during the term of its former Secretary Gina Lopez. This is to solve the prevailing problem in the lake of fish catch depletion and to assure the fishworkers who lost livelihood due to fishpen demolition that once they return to open fishing, there will be enough fish to catch.
“We are grateful that the government grants the demand of the fisherfolk for livelihood support. We still call for more fingerling-dispersal drive to convince the fisherfolk to return to traditional mode of fishing instead of being employed in private aquacultures in exchange for paltry allowance,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
WTO fish-subsidy written in blank space – Filipino fisherfolk
Manila, Philippines – Small-scale fisherfolk belonging to the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) downplays the World Trade Organization (WTO) proposal to cut fisheries subsidies on its member states, saying small and subsistent fisherfolk across the globe have not even felt the subsidies since the free-trade agreement has commenced. The proposal mainly came from the European Union (EU) which seeks to achieve the 2020 targets set out in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
In a statement, the group, which also a member of the across-the-world fishers network World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), said they didn’t even notice that there is an existing subsidy because it never reaches through them.
“The fishing sector across the globe especially those in the third world countries remain poorest of the poor, this is mainly because of the anti-fishing laws and programs from their respective states, plus the lack of subsidies and government support that will uplift their impoverished lives,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
Hicap said that in the Philippines, the government allots P100 million annually for the modernization of fishing industry under the Fisheries Code of 1998, but said it is actually meant for large-scale commercial fishing corporations instead to the small fisherfolk. That is the reason why fishing sector in the country still remains backward. Citing the data of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), only 32% of fisherfolk in a municipal level owns mechanized boats with only 3-16 horsepower, while 68% still uses backward and primitive fishing gears like paddled boats and fishing rods, some don’t even own any fishing gear at all.
PAMALAKAYA said fisheries subsidy per se has nothing to do with overcapacity and overfishing of our marine resources, the WTO just uses the subsidy wrong. The group instead proposes that the subsidy be converted to the small-scale and subsistent fisherfolk in order to modernize their backward fishing gear and be able to keep pace with the large-scale commercial fishing fleets that exploit the fishing waters allotted for municipal fisherfolk.
The group also lashes out at the European Union (EU) for its misconception on the illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) which leads countries like ours to set stricter fishing rules and regulations which make the small fishers the biggest losers. The requirement of free-trade agreements like the WTO to export tons after tons of fish products to foreign markets fuel these kinds of illegal and unregulated activities in the seas because commercial fishers seem to be on a race to cater the needs of the foreign markets like the European Union.
The fisherfolk group demands genuine and sufficient state-subsidies and support to advance their productivity and to end the long-standing export-oriented local production in order to sustain the country’s food security.
The WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference will be held in Buenos Aires on December 2017. ###
Fire-affected fishers in Cavite need fishing gears, boats
Bacoor, Cavite – The fisherfolk in Maliksi III, Bacoor, Cavite who were devastated by the fire that hit their fishing community on April 5 now appeal to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to distribute fishing boats and fishing gears so they can return to their livelihood after the fire devastated their houses and other livelihood materials including fishing gears and boats.
The blaze leaves almost 500 families or more than 2,000 individuals homeless.
In a statement, the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) said next to economic relief and aid that the local and national government have distributed to the residents is livelihood support and subsidy to assure that they may be able to return to their source of livelihood and soften the impact of the blaze on their food security.
“We urge the BFAR to mobilize its calamity fund through its boat dispersal program. Making them return to their livelihood will assure that they could also return to their community,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The fisherfolk group slammed the local government for its response right after the tragedy which offers the residents balik-probinsya program and relocation sites in Naic, Cavite, saying the affected residents don’t want to be removed permanently from their fishing community because it also means taking them out of their livelihood. The local government through Bacoor City Mayor Lani Revilla retracted their statement after they were exposed, saying their offer of balik-probinsya and relocation site are only optional.