Tag Archives: Fisheries Code of 1998

Suspension of Manila fisheries law proposed

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Rey Manangan and Billy Javier Reyes

MANILA, Philippines-Some 50 fisherfolk leaders and environmental activists today urged President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy Aquino III to indefinitely suspend the implementation of the Fisheries Code of 1998 otherwise known as Republic Act No. 8550 for the law’s failure to protect the livelihood and marine environment all over the country.

At the launching of the first National Fisherfolk Conference on Fisheries Code of 1998 and Marine Resources held at the conference room of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) in Quezon City , leaders of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) from the provinces of La Union, Rizal, Batangas, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate in Luzon, Samar and Leyte in Eastern Visayas, Cebu and Iloilo in the Visayas and Sarangani in Mindanao and environmental experts from Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC-Philippines), Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center (Fidec) and Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment said President Aquino can suspend RA 8550 by issuing an executive order.

“We strongly urge President Aquino to call on Congress to stop the implementation of RA 8550 and task both Houses of chambers to undertake impact assessment and performance evaluation of the 12-year old fisheries law. The reports from the grassroots concerning the impact of the law on small fisherfolk is highly alarming and life threatening,” conference organizersFernando Hicap of Pamalakaya and CEC-Philippines executive director Ces Quimpo said in a joint statement.

Based on the preliminary assessment conducted by Pamalakaya and CEC-Philippines, the 12-year old was a comprehensive failure, asserting further that RA 8550 failed to meet its objectives in uplifting the lives of small fishermen, promote food security for 94 million Filipinos and protect the environment from internal and external factors.

Pamalakaya, CEC-Philippines, Kalikasan-PNE and Fidec raised the following conclusions why Fisheries Code failed to provide meaningful reforms in local fisheries and should be repealed if not indefinitely suspended while Congress is studying what to do either to amend the law or have it replaced with a progressive fisheries law.

1. RA 8550 failed to raise the standard of living among fisherfolk. Before the law was enacted average fish harvest and average fish income prior to the enactment of RA 8550 was 10-15 kilos per day and about P 200- P 300 per day. Under the fish code regime, average catch and income dropped to 3kilos -5 kilos per day or P 50-P 75 per day.

2. The 12-year old law fisheries law led to massive privatization of communal fishing grounds. The national government and local government units to transact business with private groups to establish hectares of beach resorts, fish pens and fish cages biased to finance and export capital at the expense of Filipino fisherfolk, the local environment and national patrimony.

3. The law is extremely biased to big business. Commercial fishing vessels are allowed to enter even in the 15-kilometer municipal fishing waters which are reserved to small fishermen. Large scale aquaculture activities are also set up in the 15-km municipal fishing waters further delimiting access of small fisherfolk to the marine resources reserved to them within the municipal fishing water territories.

4. The proliferation of fish sanctuaries all over the country was not meant for marine environmental protection and resource regeneration but for profit motivated activities like eco-tourism. Fish sanctuaries have become synonymous with tourism and water-based rest and recreation activities.

5. The Fisheries Code of 1998 further reduced the scope and coverage of fishing activities among small fisherfolk. Ordinances such as zoning ordinance and color coding prevent fisherfolk from exercising their communal rights to the country’s archipelagic waters

6. RA 8550 is not a fisherfolk empowerment piece of legislation. It is actually a money making scheme. Since 1998, fisherfolk caught for minor offenses in violations of the 12-year fisheries law are fined with exorbitant fees ranging from P 1,500 to a high of P 60,000 per offense, while big players in the industry which committed high crimes in fisheries managed to escape by bribing officials and law enforcers all over the country.

Pamalakaya also noted that the Fisheries code of 1998 also failed to uphold the country’s national sovereignty and patrimony. The militant group said the fisheries law was never ranged nor cited in the country’s negotiations of various government treaties entered by the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Pamalakaya said RA 8550 was never referred during the Arroyo government’s negotiations on the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (Jpepa) and the recently concluded RP-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), where a number of provisions have something to do with production and mobilization of fishery resources.

The militant group also said RA 8550 was never treated as reference in allowing foreign companies to conduct offshore mining activities in the country referring to the oil and gas hunts in Tanon Strait in Cebu and Bohol, in Cebu-Bohol Strait, in Palawan and Spratly areas and recently ExxonMobil’s one hundred million offshore stunt in Sulu Sea.

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30-boat fluvial protest kicked off despite Tsunami alert

By Pepsi La Loma

Legazpi City, Albay- Despite of the Tsunami alert brought about by the 8.8 killer earthquake in Chile yesterday, fisherfolk activists belonging to Lakas ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Bicol (Lambat-Bicol) staged on Sunday a 30-boat fluvial parade to demand the next elected president to pursue the repeal of the 12-year old Fisheries Code of 1998.

“While we consider the tsunami alert this morning and early afternoon, we still went on with our 30-boat fluvial protest against Fisheries Code of 1998. A potential tsunami will not stop us from delivering our political and electoral message today. We will strongly ask the next elected President of the Philippine Republic to certify as urgent the repeal of Fisheries Code of 1998. It is time to end this 12-year old running nightmare,” said Salvador France, chair of Lambat-Bicol and the vice-chairperson of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya).

“The next President should also call on Congress to craft a new fisheries law that will uphold the collective rights of millions of fisherfolk and will protect the seas from big time exploiters and first-rate profiteers in the backward fishing industry. A tsunami of protest awaits the next President if he fails to correct an injustice known as Fisheries Code of 1998,” added France.

The anti-Fisheries Code fluvial parade kicked off this morning and passed several coastal barangays of the towns of Bacacay, Pag-asa, Sto. Domingo and culminated in Legazpi City harbor in Albay province, with fisherfolk leaders and activists on board of fishing boats chanting “Fisheries Code of 1998, Ibasura!” (Junk Fisheries Code of 1998!) as they crossed coastal barangays on their way to the main wharf in the region’s main capital.

France said the protest ended at 12:00 noon, or an hour earlier set by Philvocs on the possible effect of the killer earthquake in Chile to nations along the Pacific belt. Nineteen coastal provinces all over the country are facing the Pacific stretch where tidal waves are expected to occur. But early this evening, Philvocs cancelled the alert level it earlier raised.

Prior to the 30-boat fluvial parade in Bicol, anti-Fisheries Code protests were staged by Pamalakaya and its regional and provincial chapters this month. On Feb.9 and Feb.10, and Feb.23 lake fisherfolk in Laguna Lake staged caravans demanding for the immediate scrapping of the fisheries law.

On Feb.25, some 100 Pamalakaya members from Cebu, Bohol and Negros kicked off a swim protest in Mactan Channel in Cebu City to demand the immediate repeal of the 12-year old controversial fisheries law.

The law passed by Congress in 1998, three months before the 1998 presidential election was largely blamed by fisherfolk organizations all over the Philippines for the sorry state of local fisheries in the country.

France said the Fisheries Code of 1998 is more of a lip service rather than a legacy on empowerment for the 1.4 million small fisherfolk and 10 million of their direct dependents.

The activist fisherfolk leader noted that while the 12-year fisheries act recognized the preferential rights of small fishermen to use the 15-kilometer municipal fishing ground, it also allows commercial fishing vessels to penetrate municipal fishing areas by virtue of a provision that once a municipal fishing area is more than 7-fathoms deep, commercial fishing operators are allowed to come in and capture fish to the detriment of small fishermen.

France lamented Fisheries Code of 1998 also enhanced the privatization of communal fishing grounds and coastal communities through the controversial Fishpond Lease Agreement and Foreshore Lease Agreement (FLAs) where big business is allowed to transform fishing areas into fishpond and aquaculture ponds, put up eco-tourism projects and export-oriented undertakings.

He said the 12-year old fish law reduced scope of fishing areas due to imposition of restrictive measures such as color coding and zoning ordinances that prevent small fishermen from going to one municipal fishing town to another. On the other hand, the government courtesy of the Fisheries Code imposed burdensome taxes and fees on fishers’ boats and gears, including multiple fees on simple violations of the code.

Lambat-Bicol and Pamalakaya said the 12-year old fisheries law merely transformed small fisherfolk into sidekicks of law enforcers. As members of Bantay Dagat, small fisherfolk are employed to watch and monitor their small fisherfolk colleagues suspected of engaging in dynamite and illegal fishing, while authorities let go the big fish engaged in bigger crimes against the fisherfolk and environment.

Pamalakaya said the repeal of the Fisheries Code of 1998 will be presented as an electoral agenda during the presidential forum billed Pamalakaya Fisherfolk Academy 2010 edition, which the group will call next month.

In 2004, Pamalakaya and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) had a joint presidential forum which was attended by the late Fernando Poe Jr. In 2007, Pamalakaya called the first edition of the fisherfolk academy but only San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito, who was rumored to be running for senatorial election that time attended the fisherfolk forum.

Pamalakaya said invitations will be off this week and will be sent to Nacionalista Party (NP) standard bearer Sen. Manuel Villar, Liberal Party presidential bet Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, Lakas-Kampi merger party bet Gilbert Teodoro, former President Joseph Estrada of Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) and independent candidates Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas Movement, Senator Richard Gordon, Olongapo councilor JC de los Reyes and environmentalist Nicanor Perlas. #

Fluvial protesters demand social justice for small fishermen

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Visayan fishers want 12-year old fisheries law repealed

By Sugar Hicap

Cebu City- Fisherfolk groups in the island provinces of Bohol, Cebu and Negros today declare the 12-year old Fisheries Code of 1998 a major disaster, saying the next Congress should prioritize its repeal and replace it a new fisheries law that is progressive and responsive to the demand of the marginal fishermen across-the-country.

Leaders of Bokkana-Bohol, Pamana-Sugbo and Pamalakaya-Negros, the three island wide chapters of the fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in Central Visayas and Western Visayas said the law enacted during the time of former President Fidel Ramos failed to achieve its goal, which is to empower the Filipino fisherfolk and raise the standard of living of not less than 1.3 million small fishermen and fish workers, and other 8 million people eking their livelihood from fishing and fish culture.

Enacted on Feb.24, 1998, the Fisheries Code replaced Presidential Decree 704 implemented during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos. The post-Martial Law code reserves the 15-kilometer municipal fishing area to small fisherfolk and taps fisherfolk organizations as “Bantay Dagat” to help government enforcers in catching fishermen using dynamite and other forms of illegal fishing and drive away commercial fishing vessels from encroaching the reserved fishing area for marginal fishermen.

However, there are exceptions and loopholes in the law that allows big time commercial fishing vessels to penetrate the 15-kilometer municipal fishing area, if the waters inside the 15-municipal fishing area are 7 fathoms deep. In many cases, commercial fishing companies enter the municipal fishing grounds because of the 7-fathom exception.

“The 1998 fisheries law is either a comprehensive failure or a running nightmare or both. It has done nothing to alleviate the sorry situation of small fishers. The fisheries code is supposed to raise the standard of living of 10 million fishers and their dependents. But look at the fisherfolk now, they are the poorest people all over the country,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Fisheries Code of 1998, which is hyped a protective law failed to stop large-scale destructive fishing, offshore mining in Central Visayas and Negros Island and now the offshore reclamation in Panglao Island, province of Bohol.

Hicap said the Fisheries Code reduced fisherfolk as sidekick law enforcers of the maritime police of the Philippine National Police (PNP) or reserve troops of the Philippine Navy.

The Pamalakaya leader said the 1998 fisheries law effectively limited the scope of fishing from communal practice to zone divided fishing with the implementation of zoning ordinance and color coding that bars fisherfolk from fishing to nearby municipalities or provinces.

Hicap said the 1998 fisheries law also legalized extortion and corruption, with local government officials imposing fees and taxes to small scale fishermen as to use of boats, nets and other fishing gears.

He said the 12-year central law in local fisheries sector also failed to combat global warming, and on the contrary promoted the massive conversion of fishing areas and public lands along coastal and lakeshores into aquaculture hub, industrial zones and eco-tourism spots.

Pamalakaya, its regional and provincial chapters in Central Visayas and Negros Island will lead the drafting of a new fishery law that would be submitted to next Congress for approval.

Tentatively billed as Genuine Fisheries and Aquatic Reform Bill (GFARB), the new fisheries act envisioned by small fisherfolk seeks to nationalize the backward fishing industry, ban all government and private activities that destroy the marine fishing areas like offshore mining and reclamation, and other forms of privatization and conversion of all communal fishing areas and coastal communities.

The GFARB will immediately reserve the exclusive use of 15-km municipal fishing ground to small fisherfolk, stop massive fish importation activities, distribute existing corporate fishponds to fishermen associations and organizations, and ensure production subsidies to poor fisherfolk.


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