Intensify efforts to curb illegal fishing

Photo Courtesy of JACKSON ZUMARRAGA/Rappler

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Various fisheries’ groups here urged the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), the Provincial Government, and coastal Local Government Units (LGUs) to intensify efforts against illegal fishing.

In a joint press statement, the Negros Occidental Federation of Small Fishers Associations (NOFSFA)  and PRRM-Negros said efforts should also be undertaken against the continuous taking of berried and juvenile crabs in the province to ensure the sustainable breeding of crabs.

They also called for the localization of the Blue Swimming Crabs (BSC) National Management Plan (NMP).

Small fisher leaders from various parts of the province further declared their continuing opposition to illegal fishing and illegal resource extraction in coastal areas.

They called on the national and local governments to increase their fisheries budgets and to establish a separate Department of Fisheries so as to give more attention and support to fisheries, small fishers, and coastal communities.

NOFSFA celebrated Fisherfolks Day in advance on May 29 so as to allow its various member federations and alliances to hold their respective activities on May 31, which was established by the national government thru Presidential Proclamation  No. 33.

The event bannered the theme “Onwards the Struggle of Small Fishers and Fish Workers for Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM), 10-Point Agenda and Blue Swimming Crabs (BSC)-National Management Plan (NMP) Localization towards Democratic and Sustainable Fisheries.”

More than 100 small fisher leaders from various coastal towns and cities, public officials and civil society members in the province participated in the event held at the Negros Residences Hotel, near the Provincial Capitol.

A short march around the venue with small fishers bearing their organizational banners and advocacy placards reeled off the indoor rally.

Among the event speakers were Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) head Dr. Francis Causing representing Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, former Party-list Cong. Pete Pico, former Gov. Rafael Coscolluela, former Provincial Board Member and Kabankalan City Vice Mayor Raul Rivera, NOFSFA chair Eduardo Espinosa, PRRM-Negros Area Manager Edwin Balajadia, Manapla Crab fisher leader Gerry Bedoya, and North Iloilo small fisher leader Franz Laurio from Concepcion, Iloilo

In his message, Negros Occidental governor Eugenio Lacson hailed the celebration of National Fisherfolks Day and extended his support and solidarity to the small fishers, especially on their efforts for sustainable livelihoods.

Coscolluela, meanwhile, urged the small fishers to become vocal voices for good governance and advocates for responsible citizenship.

Aside from the solidarity messages, a major highlight of the event was the signing by the guests and participants to a banner signifying their commitment and support to NOFSFA’s Democratic and Reform 10-Point Agenda.

Noticeably absent from the gathering were the invited representatives of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) or Provincial Board Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries.

NOFSFA has more than 4,000 members based in more than 80 people’s organizations (POs) spread in various local federations and alliances in 13 coastal towns and cities of the province. Assisting it is the Negros Office of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), the oldest NGO in the country.