Bicol fishermen nix Fisheries Code Amendment

BULA, CSur—Some 500 members of United Bicol Fishing Federation trooped to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Office yesterday to protest Republic Act 10654.

Bicol fishermen nix Fisheries Code Amendment
Photo: BFAR
R.A. 10654 or “An Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, Amending The Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, and for Other Purposes” was signed into law by President Benigno Aquino III on February 27, 2015.

Said law penalizes fishing without a valid license, authorization or permit; fishing without reporting the catch or misreporting the catch; fishing in a closed area or during a closed season; fishing of prohibited species; fishing with the use of prohibited gear or methods; falsifying, concealing or tampering with vessel markings, identity or registration to conceal vessel identity or lack of registration; concealing, tampering or disposing of evidence relating to an investigation of a violation;  assaulting, resisting, intimidating, harassing, seriously interfering with, or unduly obstructing or delaying a fisheries law enforcer, authorized inspector or observer or other duly authorized government officer; intentionally tampering with or disabling the vessel monitoring system; and committing multiple violations which taken together constitute a serious disregard of [the] Code.

During what they called Pambansang Welgang Dagat, members of the federation maintained that said law violates their freedom as fishermen.

“Malayang pamamalakaya ibalik sa mangingisda,” they urged, “Wag kaming gawing dayuhan sa sariling bayan, hanapbuhay aming kailangan.”

They also asked BFAR to jail the foreign poachers, not Filipino fishermen who are only out to make a living.

BFAR Region V Spokesperson Nonie Enolva said their office welcomes the protest.

She also mentioned she was glad the protest turned out to be peaceful, as they listened to the gripes of the fishermen.

Meanwhile, BFAR Regional Director Dennis Del Socorro said the law, instead of oppressing the Bicolano fishermen, in fact protects their rights.

Earlier today, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of said R.A. was signed by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.—BICOLSTANDARD.COM