Traders, fisherfolk declare fish holiday

(The Philippine Star) - September 2, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Fish traders in Navotas and Malabon yesterday joined fisherfolk from the provinces in declaring a fish holiday as a protest against the implementation of the amended Fisheries Code of the Philippines.

Thousands of fishermen gathered in Rizal Park in Manila to denounce stiffer fines to be imposed on fishing vessels and the restriction on fishing activities in municipal waters.

Mario Pascual, president of the Market Trader’s Association in Navotas, told The STAR that fishermen from Batangas, Mindoro, Cavite, Bicol, Quezon, Bulacan and Bataan did not sell their catch for a day to protest the amendments made to Republic Act 10654 or the Fisheries Code of the Philippines, which ban fishing 15 kilometers from the shore.

Fish and other marine products were reportedly scarce in some markets in Metro Manila.

The prices of fish and other seafoods reportedly increased yesterday at the fish ports in Navotas and Malabon.

Pascual said the law bans all types of fishing boats in Manila Bay, affecting the livelihood of fishermen, fish vendors, cargo haulers, market traders and their employees.

Authored by Sen. Cynthia Villar, Section 7 of RA 10654 amended Section 14 of the existing Fishery Code on “monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing in Philippine waters.”

The new law amended RA 8850 or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998. 

It strengthens the government campaign against unregulated fishing, poaching, and other illegal fishing acts.

Edgar Baliyon, president of the United Transport Workers Organization-Fisherfolk Sector, said the law is anti-poor.

He said the fishing ban in Manila Bay would mean higher prices in the market, which could result in traders opting to import fish instead of buying from local fisherfolk.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said it would stand by the amendments made to the Fisheries Code of 1998.

“The improvement and interventions, which we are putting in place are necessary to help the sector move forward to sustainable fishing. These precede our commitment to the international community as well as global market requirements. This will only be realized if we put into law fair and reasonable provisions that would ensure that our resources are protected from all forms of abuse,” said BFAR director Asis Perez.

The implementing rules and regulations for the new fisheries code will be out this month, Perez said.

The penalties imposed for violation of fisheries laws have been raised from P10,000 to P500,000.

ASIS PEREZ BULACAN AND BATAAN BUREAU OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES CYNTHIA VILLAR EDGAR BALIYON FISH FISHERIES FISHERIES CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES FISHING MANILA BAY NAVOTAS AND MALABON
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