“Speak up on Benham Rise issue!” – DENR, BFAR told
Manila, Philippines – “In the midst of the raging controversy regarding the Philippine Rise, the deafening silence of two government lead agencies, namely, the BFAR and the DENR is utterly disappointing,” according to the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas), urging the two agencies to speak up and make a stand against the government’s sell-out of our marine territory.
The group said Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are supposed to be at the forefront of conducting research in the fishing resources and management of the marine biodiversity of the rise.
Philippine Rise is a 13-million-hectare resource rich underwater plateau located opposite to the disputed South China Sea, it has been declared by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in April 2012 as part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Through the Executive Order No. 25 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in May last year, the undersea feature has been renamed from Benham Rise to Philippine Rise.
Aside from China, the Duterte administration has approved research applications from several countries such as Japan, United States, and South Korea; which was opposed by the fishers group, saying it is a gross violation of our patrimony and tantamount to surrender of sovereign rights.
The fisherfolk group noted that BFAR and DENR have already conducted exploratory trips and research on the plateau before.
Aid for the families of missing fishermen in Palawan urged
Manila, Philippines – The national fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Wednesday appealed for government relief and support for the families of the fishermen who died and remain missing off the Mangsee island in Palawan due to tropical storm Vinta that hit the province last week.
Citing the report of the local authorities and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), at least 34 people have been confirmed dead while more than 60 others are still missing. Majority of the missing people and fatalities are fisherfolk.
The fisherfolk group said they are hopeful that the missing fishermen may still be able to locate by the authorities and returned to their families safe. They also urge the PCG to expedite its search and rescue operations for the missing fishermen and other victims.
“We call on the authorities to hasten the search and rescue operations for the missing fishermen and other victims of Vinta in Palawan and as much as possible, must be returned to their respective families safe. It is unfortunate that the fisherfolk are still forced to go offshore despite the turbulent weather conditions because they don’t have alternative source of income in times of natural calamities,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
The group said the national and local government must mobilize its rehabilitation funds to provide assistance to the families of the missing fishermen and to the entire fishing community in Mangsee Island that was devastated by the typhoon.
“Go outside your palace, talk to us” – Caraga farmers & fishers to Duterte
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Sunday challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to face hundreds of farmers and fishers from the Caraga Region currently encamped at Mendiola, Manila since August 23 as part of their Manila Protest Camp dubbed as “Lakbayan Laban sa Kahirapan at Karahasan”.
Farmers and fishers under Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and PAMALAKAYA, consecutively, since the first day of their protest camp staged picket actions and dialogues with various government agencies concerning their sector.
Among the issues brought by the Caraga folks are landlessness and widespread land grabbing in the region, the illegal marine sanctuaries in Surigao del Norte which deprive fisherfolk of their right to fishing grounds, and the repressive fishing rules and regulations under the amended Fisheries Code of 1998 or Republic Act 10654.
“The fisherfolk and farmers are on their third week in Manila yet no concrete commitments have been made by the government agencies they confronted to address the issues they raised,”
“The Presidet is too occupied on his war against drugs that claims thousands of lives while setting aside the ails in the countryside,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.
Fisherfolk asks probe into marine sanctuaries in Surigao del Norte
Manila, Philippines – Fisherfolk under the group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Thursday urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu to investigate the existing marine sanctuaries illegally operating in the province of Surigao del Norte that covers more than 600 hectares of its fishing waters.
Marine sanctuary in the municipality of General Luna covers 580 hectares in spite that the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) only approved 200 hectares of sanctuary in the town. While in the municipality of San Isidro, there is an existing 33 hectares of marine sanctuary and another 30 hectares for expansion will be opened soon.
Marine Sanctuaries are designated areas declared by the BFAR where all types of fishing activities are prohibited in order to preserve marine species and give fish time to spawn. However, according to PAMALAKAYA, marine sanctuaries often lead to privatization and conversion of fishing waters into eco-tourism zones
The declared marine sanctuaries in Surigao del Norte now showcase leisure activities like boat riding, surfing, scuba diving, and sport fishing for local and foreign tourists.
“While we are being denied access from our traditional fishing zone, the local government unit opens the area to rest and recreation hub for tourists. This is the reason why we don’t buy the idea that marine sanctuaries are for the interest of small fisherfolk, because we know that the real score behind this sanctuaries is to transform the traditional use of fishing waters into money-making business both of the local government and investors,” Leopoldo Pelinta, PAMALAKAYA-Surigao del Norte Spokesperson said in a statement.
The group also contests the claim of BFAR that marine sanctuaries is for marine life protection, saying the bureau’s designated sea patrols or bantay dagat prohibit only small fishermen while inutile to destructive large-scale commercial fishing vessels. Ring net and Superlight fishing are prevalent in the municipal waters even within the declared marine sanctuaries, they are destructive especially the Superlight because it paralyzes and blinds the fish once its lamp submerge into the water. They are owned by influential politicians and individuals in the province.
Local fishermen in the province also notice the change of pattern of fish species in the region, like depletion of fish capture and loss of several fish species they used to catch before.
“How can you protect the marine environment if you convert its traditional use as a fishing ground? Eco-tourism results to ecosystem imbalance because you disturb the habitat of fish and other marine life,”
Caraga fishers trooped BFAR central office to protest Fisheries Code, marine sanctuary in the region
Caraga fishers trooped BFAR central office to protest Fisheries Code, marine sanctuary in the region
Manila, Philippines – Around 60 fisherfolk from the Caraga Region XIII under the banner of Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Monday protested the amended Fisheries Code of 1998 before the central office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as part of their month-long protest camp in Manila dubbed as “Lakbayan Laban sa Kagutuman at Karahasan”.
The fisherfolk from Surigao del Norte and Agusan del Norte said since the Fisheries Code has been amended last 2015 through the Republic Act 10654, various fees and heavy taxations are being charged on them by the local government unit (LGU).
Biased fishing rules and regulations are strictly enforced by the LGU only to the municipal fishermen while it pays no attention to the illegal entry of large-scale commercial fishing fleets within the 15-kilometer fishing waters designated for small-fishermen.
“The amended Fisheries Code mounts many fishing rules and policies. It includes registration and licensing of our boats and fishing gears. The boat registration itself costs us almost P2,000 which is already a burden for small-earner fishermen like us,”
“And if we fail to comply with the strict standards, we will be categorized as “illegal fishers” and will be subjected to hefty fines and harsh penalties like confiscation of fishing gears and worst, imprisonment,” Leopoldo Pelinta, PAMALAKAYA-Surigao del Norte Spokesperson said in a statement.
Fisherfolk laments marine sanctuary in Surigao del Norte
Manila, Philippines – The provincial chapter of the militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) in Surigao del Norte laments the existing marine sanctuaries covering more than 600 hectares of fishing waters in the province’s two municipalities, namely, the General Luna and San Isidro.
According to PAMALAKAYA-Surigao del Norte, the existing marine sanctuary in the municipality of General Luna is 580 hectares in spite that only 200 hectares were approved by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). While in the municipality of San Isidro, the coastal area for sanctuary is 33 hectares and another 30 hectares for expansion will be opened soon.
Marine sanctuaries are designated area declared by BFAR where all types of fishing activities are prohibited in order to preserve the marine species and pave way for the spawning of fish. However, according to PAMALAKAYA, marine sanctuaries often lead to privatization and conversion of fishing grounds into eco-tourism zone. The group also said that sanctuaries do not guarantee protection of marine species because BFAR’s bantay dagat or sea patrol is inutile to prevent the entry of large-scale commercial fishing fleets in the 15-kilometer municipal fishing area that use destructive and exploitative fishing gears like the hulbot-hulbot or Danish Seine where the latter is prevalent in the province.
The group said the declared marine sanctuaries in the province are guarded by policemen and the passageway of small fisherfolk even outside the declared area is strictly restricted.
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.