Fisherfolk and environmental activists arrive in Dagupan City in a floatilla of 30 boats, asking presidential candidates to include the sector’s demands in their agenda
MANILA, Philippines (Apr. 24, 2016) — Environmental groups gave a 10-point agenda that summed up the concerns of fisherfolk on Sunday, April 24, the day of the last leg of the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) PiliPinas Debates.
In a Facebook post by Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Naderev Saño, fisherfolk and environmental activists are seen arriving in a flotilla in Dagupan with posters that “call on presidential candidates to protect the interests of Filipino small fisherfolk.”
The floatilla, composed of 30 boats, traversed the 5-kilometer distance between Pogaro-Dagupan to Talab-Dagupan river. The group said the fisherfolk wanted to be included in the agenda of presidential bets to address poverty in coastal communities and the deteriorating conditions of fishing grounds across the country.
Their agenda included the following demands:
- To implement the fisherfolk settlement program
- To complete the creation of fish landing centers
- To finish the delineation between municipal waters
- To create the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources
- To implement programs that will revive the seas
- To protect the country’s aquatic resources
- To strengthen the governance of the seas
- To create a traceability mechanism for aquatic products
- To strengthen fisherfolk’s ability to adapt to climate change
- To develop a sustainable way of fishing
The fisheries sector took a leap during the administration of President Benigno Aquino III, with the value of fishery exports sourced from smallholder fishers rising. In 2013, the value of their fishery exports was pegged at $1.156 billion. This is higher than the 2010 figure of $634 million.
The Philippines was also able to avoid a trade sanction from the European Union by amending the country’s 16-year-old Fisheries Code. The new law features stricter guidelines and higher penalties for illegal fishers.
But for the fisherfolk, there is still a lot to be done.
The third and last presidential debate is set to start at 5 PM at the University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City.
All 5 candidates have confirmed their attendance. They will answer questions from sectoral groups and from each other.