Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
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 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.
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.
PAMALAKAYA rejects BFAR’s National Mariculture Program
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Friday expressed its opposition on the proposed National Mariculture Program (NMP) which aims to establish mariculture parks and zones in duly designated areas located within the municipal waters.
Mariculture refers to an integrated branch of aquaculture designed to produce and culture fish through sea cages, long lines and other culture structures in marine and coastal areas.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA said mariculture parks will further the privatization and corporate take-over of our fishing waters and marine resources at the expense of the communal fishing grounds of municipal and subsistent fisherfolk.
The fisherfolk group cited Laguna de Bay as a living proof of how giant local and foreign fishing firms have taken over of our fishing waters, where almost 60% of the total size of the 90-thousand hectare brackish lake are currently occupied by vast-tracts of fish pens and fish cages owned by few fish-firms and powerful individuals, leaving the small fishers huddle over the small fishing waters left.
The fisherfolk group refutes the claim of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) that mariculture will ensure food security to the population while protecting the aquatic resources. PAMALAKAYA said aquacultures often result to siltation, fish kill and other marine ecological disruption like the depletion of fish catch due to chemical feeds used in culturing fish.
Mariculture does not also guarantee local food security because of its present export-oriented production where export-based marine species like seaweeds and prawn are the main products of aquaculture.
Fisherfolk wants moratorium on boat and fish registration scheme
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) calls for a temporary suspension of some of the provisions on the amended Fisheries Code of 1998 or Republic Act 10654, particularly the Boat Registration (BoatR) and Fisherfolk Registration (FishR), one of the new highlights in the amended Fisheries Code. The fisherfolk group said this is another burden for the small fisherfolk who barely earn enough to sustain their families’ daily expenses.
The BoatR, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) is designed to fast-track and complete the nationwide fishing vessels registration with capacity of three gross tons (GT) and below while the FishR aims to register fisherfolk in the country to come up with a national database system.
Pamalakaya said under the BoatR and FishR, fisherfolk register their fishing boats and gears and even themselves to their respective municipal government annually with corresponding fees.
In a statement, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson Fernando Hicap, which is also a fisherman in Rosario, Cavite said he has paid at least P5, 000 for the registration of his fishing boat and other gears.
“This registration scheme is ridiculous and absurd. Why would the government require the fisherfolk and even their fishing gears to get registered? Fishing sector is the poorest in the country; they bear the brunt of commercial fishing proliferation and the decreasing income due to decreasing fish catch in the municipal fishing waters. What they need is concrete government support and aid, not another hefty fees and taxes,” Hicap said.
Hicap said this registration scheme is prone to corruption to local government and even officials.
“Local government units are empowered to impose exorbitant fees and regressive taxation in accordance with the Fisheries Code. Even before the registration scheme, fisherfolk were already paying different taxes and fees and it has become the milking cow and money making scheme of some local and national government officials,”
The fisherfolk group is gearing on a nationally coordinated protest on the 19th year anniversary of the Fisheries Code of 1998 on February 24 to call for the abrogation of the said law and push for a new and genuine fisheries reform law that will truly benefor the interest of the small fisherfolk. ###