BFAR protecting fishing magnates, killing small fishers – fisherfolk group

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Commercial vessels apprehended by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for fishing illegally in Bicol waters. Photo courtesy: The Examiner
Commercial vessels apprehended by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) for fishing illegally in Bicol waters. Photo courtesy: The Examiner

By Joey Natividad

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region, 15Jan2015 (BicolToday.com) – Giving protection to sardines to spawn freely within a crucial 3-month period, the government ban on sardine fishing only applies the squeeze on small fisherfolk, but let the commercial fishers savor the big catch with gusto.

The militant fisherfolk group, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya-Pilipinas) assailed the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Reform (BFAR) for imposing a three-month closed season for sardine fishing off Sulu Sea and Basilan Strait.

Pamalakaya said more than 200,000 fisherfolk in ARMM might loss livelihoods due to the sardine fishing ban.

“BFAR is starving us again, for no good reason. They have implemented a fishing ban without considering that hundreds of thousands of small fisherfolk and local producers, who directly and indirectly depend on sardine catching, might loss livelihoods.” Salvador France, Pamalakaya vice-chairperson said, in a statement sent to BicolToday.com .

Citing the data of BFAR, there are a total of 221, 784 registered fisherfolk in the region.

The sardine fishing ban has started on January 11 which will last until March 31. According to BFAR-ARMM, the ban is to let the sardines spawn freely and to conserve its population.

Studies of international groups such as Conservation Strategy Fund suggest that fishing bans do little for the expansion of fish population.

“It is clear that sardine magnates and large commercial aquacultures that are based on export are the main exploiter of sardines in the country. The 3-month moratorium of sardines, under the guise of conserving the marine product, will flood our local market with imported canned products, killing our local production and industry.” France said.

The Universal Canning Inc., which is one of the country’s top canning companies and produces the familiar brands Master and Family sardines, is exporting 60% of its canned products to the European Union alone.

Pamalakaya also blamed the Fisheries Code of 1998 as the main culprit behind the fish bans.

“The Fisheries Code promotes export-oriented fishing industry, legalizing large commercial fishing fleets to go in and out of our municipal fishing waters to totally exploit our seas, while killing the livelihoods of small fishers. This long-running fisheries law must be repealed at all cost.” France said. [BicolToday.com]

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