FOR OCEANS AND FISHERIES?

Groups lobby for a new department

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FISHERFOLK and marine conservation groups have urged incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to create a separate Department of Oceans and Fisheries (DOF) to improve the lot of the fishing communities nationwide, to protect the health of the marine ecosystems, and to immediately address the crime of illegal fishing and start rehabilitating our overfished waters.

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Vince Cinches, oceans campaigner of Greenpeace Philippines, said the poverty incidence among fisherfolk reached 39.2 in 2012, the highest among the basic sectors of society, followed by farmers at 38.3 percent and children at 35.2 percent.

Dennis Calvan, executive director of the NGOs for Fishe­ries Reform, has also strongly urged the incoming administration to target an end to illegal fishing within their first six months of office.

Also priorities are: the delineation of municipal waters, the implementation of traceability mechanisms for fishery products, sustainable fishing, and capacity-building for fisherfolks to better adapt to climate change.

“To ensure the sustainability of our fishery resources and secure the livelihood of our Filipino fishers … we strongly support the creation of a Department of Oceans and Fisheries for improved fisheries governance,” Joann Binondo, overall project manager of the WWF—Partnership Program for Sustainable Tuna, said.

In a media presentation, the group composed of NGOs for Fisheries Reform, WWF Partnership Program for Sustainable Tuna, Oceana Philippines and Greenpeace Southeast Asia have requested a dialogue with Duterte to remind him of his campaign promise to address fishing and marine issues and to end very high poverty incidence among people directly relying on seas for food and for a living.

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