OLONGAPO CITY: China’s adamant stand to maintain hundreds of its fishing vessels in the West Philippine Sea is no longer just about dispute in territory, but is a food security issue for Filipino fishermen, a think tank and government watchdog and an environment advocate say.
In a joint statement, Pinoy Aksyon for Governance and the Environment (Pinoy Aksyon) and Homonhon Rescuers Environment Organization (HERO) said, “We remind the government, particularly the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to do everything to fulfill its mandate to limit access to the fishery and aquatic resources of the Philippines for the exclusive use and enjoyment of Filipino citizens, quoting Republic Act 8550 or the ‘Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998.’”
Bency Ellorin, chairman of Pinoy Aksyon, also said when the fish supply gets low, the price of fish gets higher.
“We need drastic action to protect the Filipino fisherfolk. We do not understand why the government is dragging its feet on this very vital issue affecting the people,” Ellorin said.
“The logic is simple: no fish catch, no income for the Filipino fisherfolk would result in hunger. Low fish supply means higher fish prices,” Ellorin added.
HERO, which earlier exposed the use of earth materials extracted in the country for Chinese Infrastructure projects in the West Philippine Sea, said the problem with Chinese overfishing is larger than what we thought.
The estimate of the National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea (NTF-WPS) of 1 ton per day catch of the huge Chinese fishing vessels is low. When fish are abundant, a mere 3-ton fishing boat used by municipal fisherfolk could catch up to 300 to 400 kilos, said Villardo Abueme, president of HERO.