Visayan fishermen fear that there will be an artificial fish shortage – which could trigger an increase in fish prices – amid the implementation of a state-imposed three-month fishing ban within their coastal areas.
In a statement, Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said that the closed fishing season “will spark a domino effect to the fisheries output, supply, and prices of fish in the domestic market”.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) Fisheries Administrative Order 167-3 (FAO 167-3), which established a closed fishing season in the entire Visayan Sea, kicked off yesterday, November 15, and will be implemented until February next year.
“We warn against artificial shortage of fish due to the unjust closed season in one of our major fishing grounds. Subsequently, retail prices of fish would jack up and would prompt the government to allow importation of fish that is a further threat to the local fishing industry,” PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said in a statement.
The PAMALAKAYA-Panay, which held a protest against the closed season yesterday, lamented that the measure “only applies to small fisherfolk who are already battered by economic crises brought about by the pandemic, inflation, and successive calamities”.
“The closed season remains a scourge for the small fisherfolk who are being deprived of their fishing grounds. While we don’t have access to our traditional fishing waters during closed season, big fishing vessels are able to continue with their large-scale fishing expeditions; exhausting the marine resources and leaving nothing for small fishers,” PAMALAKAYA-Panay Spokesperson Lucia Capaducio said.
Hicap also said that PAMALAKAYA is not entirely against the concept of closed season, but it should exempt small fisherfolks who are not engaged in large-scale and destructive fishing unlike big commercial fishing fleets that overexploit the seas.
“Closed season should be holistically integrated to sustainable fisheries production and support to small fisherfolks,” said Hicap.
The closed season prohibits catching of sardines, herring, and mackerel which are the primary catch of small fishers from the affected coastal towns surrounding the Visayan Sea, according to PAMALAKAYA-Panay.
It will cover five provinces and 33 coastal municipalities from Regions V, VI, and VII. In Panay Island alone, the fishing ban covers at least nine coastal towns in Iloilo province, and four coastal towns in Capiz province.