Fishers to bets: Don’t forget us
DAGUPAN CITY—Fishermen on Wednesday staged a rally here to press presidential candidates to include their sector in their governance plans, four days ahead of the third and last presidential debate that would be held at the University of Pangasinan on April 24.
“El Niño, climate change and many forms of illegal and unregulated fishing have greatly affected our sector, resulting in low catch, job insecurity and massive loss of income,” said Iza Gonzales of Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan.
Gonzales and members of the NGOs for Fisheries Reform and the Greenpeace Southeast Asia said issues on the fisheries sector had not been included in the first two presidential debates or in other forums.
The country’s fishing grounds had to be rehabilitated because many had been destroyed by overfishing, Gonzales said.
According to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Lingayen Gulf, northern Zambales, Visayan Sea, Camotes Sea, Honda Bay, Babuyan Channel, Lagonoy Gulf, Sorsogon Bay, Hinatuan and Dinagat Bay and Davao Gulf are the “over exploited” fishing areas in the country.
“This coming election, let us vote for the candidate who cares about our oceans and fisherfolk,” Gonzales said.
The groups also unveiled a 10-point agenda for sustainable fisheries, among them a demand for the creation of a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the establishment of community fish landing centers.
“Aside from being the poorest of the poor, fisherfolk are also highly vulnerable to impacts of climate change—all the more reason for government to offer programs that ensure the sustainability of fish supply in the future,” Gonzales said.
The groups also called for better protection of oceans, completion of a delineation project for municipal waterways and capacity building for fisherfolk to better adapt to climate change.
“The next administration would be critical in ensuring that the legal frameworks in place are implemented properly and the transition toward sustainable fisheries is achieved. We need to show other fish-producing countries that we are serious in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” said Sonny Batungbacal of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. Gabriel Cardinoza and Johanne Margarette Macob, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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