ILOILO – Food Producers are starving. This was the statement of small fisherfolks in a dialogue held at the office of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Regional Office 6 on October 16, World Food Day, to present the condition they face and to demand immediate assistance.
According to small-scale fisherfolks, they are facing poverty and hunger. According to them, when typhoon Ursula struck in December 2019 and the implementation of the lockdown due to COVID-19, they lost an average of PHP 3,000 per month in their income. This is due to the high cost of fishing equipment and loans due to the effects of typhoon Ursula. According to them, the start of offseason or fishban in the Visayan Sea will increase their income lost.
According to the data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority this September, the total fisheries production in the region decreased by 0.62% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. This adds to the declining production since the last quarter of 2019 at -6.89% compared to the same quarter in 2018, based on the data released last March 2020. There is a significant decrease in production in municipal waters, which is at -16.6% in the first quarter of 2020 and -12.35% in the last quarter of 2019.
According to PAMANGGAS, it is sad that during the celebration of World Food Day, our farmers and fishermen, who are considered food security frontliners, are starving due to government’s negligence. So it is fitting to call the day of October 16 as World Hunger Day since majority of our food producers are hungry.
The group blames the agency for its lack of program to directly help small-scale fishermen.
According to BFAR, their mandate is to secure the oceans not covered by municipal waters, and only assist LGUs with their programs. LGUs should be the ones to approach small-scale fishermen as LGUs have jurisdiction over municipal waters under the law./PT