MABALACAT CITY -- Former Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao has assailed the fisheries deal the Department of Agriculture (DA) forged with the South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries in what he described as detrimental to the Filipino fishermen.
Casilao urged the public to oppose the reported agreement between the two departments as it would undermine the national fishery sector, food security and self-sufficiency for fishery products.
A memorandum of understanding to expand fisheries trade and cooperation was signed by both parties.
“This will be outright export-orientation, Filipinos to endure rising prices of ‘galunggong,’ while rich countries such as South Korea to get tuna, prawns and other high-value fishery products,” the former lawmaker said.
The fisherfolk group Pamalakaya-Pilipinas earlier stated that the fisheries sector has been between shrinking and stagnant since 2017.
Volume of production fell by one percent in 2017 and by 0.2 percent in 2018. For the year’s second quarter, it only grew by 0.35 percent and on the third, by 1.8 percent due to the preceding year’s low production.
“Ordinary Filipinos has already lost the glimpse of affordable high-grade fisheries products in the market, insulted by the imported galunggong and rising prices, and now, the government is promoting the export of our fishery resources to other countries. If this pushes through, prices will shoot up due to the anticipated decline in the volume of the domestic supply,” he stressed.
Casilao suggested for a genuine fisheries and aquatic reform program that is inclusive of the poor fisherfolk sector, and serious defense of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.
“The government should develop the sustainable municipal fishing and rid away of monopoly traders who dominate the market. The rights of the small fisherfolk for subsistence fishing must be protected for them to supply and stabilize the national supply. Export-orientation and import-dependence will only worsen the deteriorating fishery sector, which is injudicious, given the fact that our country is archipelagic,” he said.