By Bernadette Tamayo | Journal Online
Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. supports calls for a review of the impact of the amended Philippines Fisheries Code on the fishing industry.
He said that a provision in Republic Act 10654 that allows large commercial fishing operation to operate within the 15-kilometer municipal waters, as long as the water is at least 7-fathom deep, will hurt small fisher folks.
“While the avowed purpose of the new law—to curb illegal fishing practices and ensure a healthy and thriving marine ecosystems for our generation and the future—we have been hearing complaints that its implementation would put small fishermen at a disadvantage,” said Marcos.
“The municipal water is supposedly reserved for small fisher folks. If we allow big commercial fishing operation in this area it would further hurt our small fishermen,” he said.
Marcos also said that the heavy emphasis the law puts on “hacienda-like” aquaculture production reduce the area of communal fishing grounds of small fishermen, contribute to the destruction of mangrove forests and could contribute to water pollution.
He noted that based on the data of Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) prior to the implementation of the original Fisheries Code in 1998, the aquaculture sector only composed 35 percent of the country’s total fishery products.
But Marcos said that in 2012, it soared to 52 percent or more than half while municipal fishing dropped from 33 percent to 26 percent, and commercial fishing from 31 percent to 21 percent.
“Aquaculture can help us achieve food security but it must be properly regulated to protect the welfare of small fishermen and protect the environment,” said Marcos.
Fishermen have also protested against the imposition of fees for fishing permits, boats, and equipment and the requirement to install tracking gadget in their vessel that would enable monitoring of their compliance with restrictions under their permits, he said.
Instead of merely imposing restrictions on fishing, Marcos said that the government should expand programs to assist the small-scale fishermen.