PANGASINAN: Marine conservation advocates have joined fisherfolk leaders in the province in challenging presidential aspirants to also address persistent poverty in coastal communities in the country.
Iza Gonzales of the Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK) said that fishery is one of the poorest sectors in the Philippines which is why “we are reminding the five presidential bets to factor in fisheries issues in their agenda.”
“We are challenging the candidates to address persistent poverty in coastal communities and the deteriorating conditions of Philippine fishing grounds,” Gonzales said.
She explained that because of exploitation, fisherfolk catch lesser fish and can barely afford to support their families.
“This coming elections, let us therefore vote the candidate who cares about our oceans and fisherfolk,” Gonzales averred.
Non-government organizations for Fisheries Reform (NGO-FR) also noted the lack of concern among the presidential candidates.
Dennis Calvan of NGO-FR said that despite the relatively significant contribution of fisheries to the national economy, they have yet to hear programs that support the small-scale fisheries sector.
“Since fisherfolks 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,” Calvan noted.
He said they are also calling for better protection of the oceans, completion of delineation of municipal waters, implementation of traceability mechanisms for fishery products, sustainable fishing, and capacity building for fisherfolks to better adapt to climate change.
Sonny Batungbacal of Greenpeace Southeast Asia said there is a need for the next administration to ensure that the legal frameworks already in place are implemented properly and the transition towards sustainable fisheries is achieved.
“We need to show other fish producing countries that we are serious in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,” Batungbacal said.
He added that the next administration should also consider the establishment of a network of large marine reserves to allow the oceans to fully recover from human exploitation.
LEANDER C. DOMINGO