Militants tag fisheries law as useless
LUCENA CITY—There has been no improvement in the lives of millions of fishermen in the country despite the existence of a 13-year-old law that governs fishing nationwide, according to a study prepared by two groups, and to be submitted to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
The Center for Environmental Concern (CEC) and the fishermen’s group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said despite the Philippine Fisheries Law of 1998, there has been no improvement in the lives of more than nine million people directly, and indirectly involved in fishing.
The two groups said a study that they prepared, “13 years of Fisheries Code, Filipino Fisherfolk Still Fish in Troubled Waters,” kept Filipino fishermen poor because it did not have any intention of giving them access to the latest in fishing technology and equipment.
Quoting the study, the two groups said in a press statement that Filipino fishermen still use backward fishing gear like small fishing boats, hook and line, nets and other technologically out-dated equipment.
The groups quoted figures from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) that showed poverty was worst among fishermen. NSCB figures, according to the groups, said at least 22.7 percent of fishermen suffer abject poverty compared to 11.7 percent of farmers.
Gerry Corpuz, Pamalakaya information officer, said previous studies showed fishermen and fishing industry workers nationwide earn an average of P150-P180 a day, way below the minimum wage set by government for workers in rural areas.
The 1998 law, said Corpuz, even led to intrusion by commercial fishing vessels into municipal waters to the detriment of fishermen.
Corruption, CEC and Pamalakaya said, has also eaten up funds for modernizing the fisheries sector. They said at least P100 million appropriated every year for municipal fishermen under the Municipal Fisheries Grant Fund are unaudited.
While the law appropriates P250 million a year to develop commercial fishing vessels, it allots only P50 million for investments in aquaculture, the groups said.
Fishermen have no access to state funds that could help them acquire better equipment and upgrade their skills.
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