There will be no fishing ban in PH, President Marcos assures
MANILA, Philippines — The government has not and will not impose a fishing ban in the country because it would adversely affect small fisherfolk, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Saturday, correcting a remark he made earlier.
“I was not able to explain it well,” the president told reporters after leading the distribution of smuggled rice to indigents in Iriga City.
“I was not talking about a fishing ban. What I meant was, we should not fish in breeding areas so the fish population will multiply,” he said. “There will be no fishing ban. People will lose their livelihood. [But] we will let the fish reproduce.”
He added, however, that overfishing in municipal waters remained a serious problem in the fisheries sector.
Republic Act No. 10654, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, does impose a fishing season for certain kinds of fish in specific waters at different times of the year, but the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has been struggling to strictly implement such fishing seasons.
According to the latest published BFAR data (2021), more than 2.19 million people were involved in municipal fishing.
Top fish producer
Along with commercial fishers and aquaculturists, capture fishers produced 4.25 million metric tons (MT) in 2021, amounting to more than P302 billion — consistently one of the largest in the world.
According to the Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Center (Seafdec), the Philippines is one of the top fish-producing countries in the world.
“The total volume of fisheries production in the Philippines in 2015 reached 4.65 million MT with a total value of $ 7.26 billion,” Seafdec said in its country report.
But the increase in the number of fisherfolk and the degradation of maritime resources and fishing grounds, particularly poaching in municipal waters, have begun to affect the sector.
The BFAR has tried to implement a fishing vessel identification system, but commercial fishers disputed the measure in court after they were prohibited from turning off their radars before entering municipal waters.
Reclamation affects fish stocks
Fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) earlier said the President’s plan to impose a fishing ban would only victimize small fishermen who “always fall prey to such strict fishing regulations.”
The group pointed out that reclamation, conversion of fishing grounds, and large-scale poaching activities are some of the culprits of the declining fish stocks in the Philippines.
“There are around 187 reclamation projects across the country, as per the Philippine Reclamation Authority itself. These dump-and-fill projects wipe out productive marine and aquatic resources such as mangroves, coral reefs, and other wetlands that result in dramatic dwindling of fish stocks,” said Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap.
But Marcos assured fisherfolk that the government would monitor and protect breeding grounds of fish to regrow the country’s fish supply.