Anakpawis urges assistance for fisherfolk

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PARTYLIST group Anakpawis urged the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to provide alternative livelihood programs for fisherfolk who will be affected by the three-month moratorium on galunggong fishing in Palawan.

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Representative Fernando Hicap noted that more than 5000 small fisher folk and their families operating 30 fishing vessels registered in the province will add to the growing number of hunger incidents once the fishing ban takes effect.

“We demand that the DA and BFAR should offer affected Palawan fisherfolk of other means of livelihood to counter its negative economic effect,” Hicap said in a statement.

Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said BFAR will implement a “closed season” for round scad (galunggong) in North Eastern Palawan from November 15, 2015 to February 15, 2016 in line with the government’s program for the sustainable utilization and management of the country’s aquatic resources.

Alcala said that the fishing ban is a result of a thorough study on migration pattern and to give way to the fish species’ spawning period in the province of Palawan.

Under the terms of the closed season, fisherfolk or fishing companies will not be allowed to catch pelagic fishes using ring net and bag net.

A BFAR study revealed that galunggong size is diminishing from 17.6 cm scale to 16.39 cm, which means its population is dropping and that it had no chance to mature because of overfishing.

Palawan fishing grounds contributed 20 percent of the total galunggong catch nationwide, of which, 92 percent of its catch landed in the Navotas Fish Port Complex (NFPC). But a 2002 to 2012 study showed that volume of galunggong caught in Palawan that went to the NFPC revealed a 40 percent decline from 88,601 metric tons to 38,842.

However, Hicap said decades of neglect by the government to stop overfishing by big commercial fishing companies was the main reason in the declining galunggong catch.

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