Some 10,000 fishermen and fish port workers from the cities of Navotas and Malabon in Metro Manila have benefited from the Chinese government’s lifting of its blockade at the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), according to a labor federation.
In a statement, Associated Labor Unions (ALU) welfare officer Angelo Tolentino on Monday said since last month, small- and medium-scale fishermen have been able to catch more than 1,000 kilograms of fish every two days that they later sold at the Malabon and Navotas Fish Port Complex for around P120,000.
Tolentino said the 10,000 fishermen and fish workers belong to the ALU.
Gerard Seno, ALU executive vice president, said “the fishing industry plays a major role in the Philippines’ economic progress as it provides direct and indirect employment to millions of people.”
“[The] profit alone is not enough to uplift the lives of our fisherfolk,” Seno added.
He explained that workers in the fishing industry must also be empowered, acquire basic social protection and must secure decent working conditions.
Since 2012, Tolentino said, Chinese ships have seized control of contested areas in the South China Sea.
“During the blockade, our fishermen have no other choice but to fish in some other parts of the open sea, catching fewer fishes. The dilemma caused by the territorial dispute between by two countries [China and the Philippines] affected the lives of both municipal and commercial fisherfolk, considering that most of them derive their livelihood from the open waters of the West Philippine Sea,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has convinced the Chinese government to let peace reign between the two countries by, for one, allowing Filipino fishermen back at the South China, particularly Scarborough Shoal, also called Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc.