Monday, April 25, 2016

Food, Fisheries, and the Future after the Presidential Debates

We challenge the next leaders of the country to improve the lot of our fishers, ensure food security and champion the transition to sustainable fisheries.
AFISH TALK.A handful of fisherfolk leaders gather infront of the University of Pangasinan (U.Pang) Phinma inDagupan City last April 20 to voice their call for presidential candidates not to forgetthem (fisherfolks). Thepresidential candidates will gather at thesaiduniversity on Sunday(24 april)for the third and final Presidential debate.

The 3rd and last Presidential debate allowed the fishers, marine conservationists, and food and agriculture advocates a peek into how the next administration will look at our marine ecosystem, on which majority of the Filipinos are heavily reliant in terms of food and livelihood. It seems that fisheries will still be relegated to the fringes and will be lumped under an agricultural framework by all candidates, except for former Secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Grace Poe who both briefly articulated in their opening statements the issue of municipal waters and mechanisms for allowing our seas to recover.
1.       The industry accounted for 13.8% (Php 197.1 billion) and 18.2 % (Php130.5 billion) of the Gross Value Added (GVA) in agriculture, fishery and forestry group with an average annual increase of GVA from 2008-2014 at 2% and -0.3% at current prices and constant prices, respectively.
2.       The fishing industry's contribution to the Philippines' Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of PhP 12,643 billion at current prices is 1.6 % or Php 197.1 billion. At constant prices, the fishing industry's contribution to GDP of Php 7,164 billion is 1.8 % or Php 130.5 billion;
3.       The fishing industry employs an estimated 1.6 million. Fisheries and aquatic products are the primary source of cheap animal protein in the country; and
4.         Coastal and marine ecosystems, such as mangroves and coral reefs, provide natural coastal protection against storm surges, strong typhoons and winds.
The fisherfolk have gained so much under the current administration with the amendments of the Philippine Fisheries Code to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Despite the reduction of poverty incidence among fishers by less than 2%, there is still a lot of things to do as we start the long road towards achieving sustainable fisheries in the Philippines. 

We challenge the next leaders of the country to continue and further improve this transition to sustainable fisheries.
Yesterday, as we pushed for the Blue Agenda for Sustainable Fisheries during the flotilla that we organized around Dagupan, Vice President Binay, Senator Grace Poe, and former Secretary Mar Roxas each promised that, should they win, fisherfolk and oceans issues will figure prominently in their priority programs to ensure that fishing communities and fish stocks remain sustainable for years to come. In the era of climate change, we urge our Presidential candidates to realize the urgency of its impacts to our oceans, food, livelihood and people. By the end of June 2016, new leaderships would have taken place. The statements and documents sent our way will be used to monitor their performance. We urge all candidates not to merely pay lip service to the poorest of the poor, and instead make sure that agriculture and fisheries are the centerpiece of their development plans and programs.###

Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, BALAOD Mindanaw, Center for Empowerment and Resource Development (CERD, Institute of Social Order (ISO) National Movement for Food Sovereignty, NGOs for Fisheries Reform, Inc. (NFR) Oceana Philippines, Pambansang Katipunan ng Samahan sa Kanayunan (PKSK), Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK), Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PHILDHRRA), Progresibong Alyansa ng mga Mangingisda sa Pilipinas (PANGISDA-Pilipinas), Sentro Para sa Ikauunlad ng Katutubong Aghan at Teknolohiya (SIKAT) Tacloban Fisherfolk Urban Association, Tambuyog Development Center, WWF-Philippines, Greenpeace Philippines.

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