GREENPEACE expressed recently its support to the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) urgent call to shame and suspend local officials who fail to stop illegal fishing.
Vince Cinches, Oceans Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia–Philippines, said they support Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s urgent proposal seeking to penalize local government officials who fail to end destructive and illegal fishing in their municipal waters.
“We are also calling on the DA leadership to prioritize the municipalities within the 10 fishing grounds that the National Stocks Assessment Program of the DA has identified as over-fished or heavily exploited, and to give an ambitious time frame of six months to allow these fishing grounds to recover,” he added.
Cinches said there is also a need for the national government to address the high poverty incidence among municipal fisher-folk and coastal communities that is a result of destructive and illegal fishing.
“It is important for the Duterte administration to allocate significant and necessary resources from the national budget to enable a multi-stakeholder body to comprehensively end the scourge of unsustainable fishing practices in the country,” he added.
Meanwhile, a network of fisheries organizations commended the DA on the move and urged the agency to work with the Department of the Interior and Local Government to establish a transparent reporting mechanism to ensure swift justice against erring local government officials.
In a statement, Pangingisda Natin Gawing Tama (PaNaGaT) said they are strongly urging the Agriculture secretary to effectively enforce Republic Act 10564 (illegal fishing law) and initiate other urgent reforms to further develop a sustained and equitable fishing industry in the Philippines.
PaNaGaT added that they believe coastal and marine resources should be managed with an ecosystem-based approach where areas and habitats are interconnected.
“Illegal fishing can be curbed if cooperation between and among local governments is promoted,” the group said.
PaNaGaT added there is also a need to strengthen local fishery law enforcement groups or the volunteer Bantay Dagat by providing them with equipment, training and social protection such as insurance and other social benefits.
LEANDER C. DOMINGO