By SHERWIN DE VERA
with reports from ELAINE BANAG
BAGUIO CITY — In commemoration of the World Fisheries Day, the provincial federation of fisherfolk in La Union led the conduct of the Fisherfolk Leaders Summit on November 28 in the second congressional district of the province.
Timek ken Namnama dagiti Babassit a Mangalap ti La Union (Voice and Hope of Small Fisherfolk of La Union) or Timek La Union gathered 128 leaders from the fishing communities of the six coastal towns at Brgy. Payocpoc in Bauang,
Eleven municipalities comprise the district, of these, the towns Agoo, Aringay, Bauang, Caba, Rosario and Santo Tomas are found along the coast.
Speaker from Pambansang Lakas ng mga Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya Pilipinas) Jam Pinpin discussed the situation of the fishery sector in the country.
His discussion emphasized the abundance of the country’s marine resources and fishing as among the top income earner for the country. However, he said the sector remains the poorest.
Pinpin said the reason for this situation is the flawed fishery management policy of the government, pointing its skewed provisions over big business and foreign impositions.
In particular, the speaker cited the Fisheries Code of 1998 or Republic Act No. 8550 and its amendment, RA 10654, as an effort to legalize the displacement of small fishermen in favor of the large and commercial fishing corporations.
He warned of the provisions under Foreshore Lease Agreement and Fishpen Fish Agreement in the amended code that will pave the way for wholesale seizure of traditional fishing grounds to investors.
Pinpin also gave a brief discussion on the content Genuine Fisheries Aquatic Resource Bill (GFARB) filed by members of the Makabayan bloc in the Lower House. He sahred that Pamalakaya helped in crafting the bill and ensuring the widest consultation in the sector for its content.
The participants also shared their actual experience on the implementation of the old and revised fishery code. Among the top concerns expressed by the local fishermen is the continuing infiltration of large commercial fishing vessels in the 15 kilometer municipal waters which is supposed to be exclusive to local fishers.
Towards the end of the summit, participants agreed to support GFARB and the natinalist and democratic campaigns of Pamalakaya at the local level. Attendees from Bauang also formed their municipal chapter of Timek.
The activity was themed “Strengthen and expand the fisherfolk organization! Assert our rights!” is also part of the group’s build up activities for the upcoming Human Rights Week. # nordis.net