The actors of the fishing industry call for the creation of a Fisheries Department to solve the problems that afflict the territorial waters of the country.
“It has been the call of the industry for a long time. We are supposed to take care of the exclusive economic zone of the country and we also take care of international issues. A small agency like BFAR is simply not enough to accomplish all of these tasks,” Atty, former director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Asis Perez said in a statement.
“What is needed is to develop a policy framework that will ensure that the private sector will be inspired, to invest, to put in the money so that the fishing part of the blue economy is fully realized,” Perez said. .
The president of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), Edicio de la Torre, supports this decision.
“The fishermen, they are on the margins. So we don’t pay much attention to them. That’s part of the reason why they want a separate fisheries department that can really pay attention to their specific interests, to their needs,” De la Torre said.
The head of the PRRM also lamented how “overexploited” our fishing grounds are and how “the big international boats come to fish…they really catch everything because they have big nets”.
De la Torre also expressed dismay at how galunggong, once the most consumed food fish by Filipinos, “has become our main import.”
“They are frozen and they are caught in our seas. Mainly Chinese fishing boats. And I was told that they really don’t eat galunggong there. They just re-export us,” Dela Torre pointed out.
Similarly, the PRRM President noted that “the Philippines is over 300,000 square kilometers of land. Our exclusive economic zone covers 2.2 million square kilometres.
“We are the 15th largest fishing nation in the world. The Philippines is a maritime and archipelagic nation or MANA. And if necessary, we have to defend it,” added Dela Torre.
Nestor Domenden, who sits as the officer in charge of the BFAR, also mentioned that “the fisheries sector program in the 1990s recommended that the fisheries sector should be given a category at the departmental level”.
“First, we need to modernize our fishing industry. Second, our laws must be based on science,” Domenden said.
Former lawmaker Jonathan dela Cruz said the country needs to “upgrade our fishing industry”.
“We have a lot of fish and everything else, but we don’t have the logistics to be able to process it, for example, or put it on the market,” Dela Cruz said. —LBG, GMA Integrated News