THE Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) fishers group has urged President Bongbong Marcos, who also heads the Department of Agriculture (DA) to stop the importation of fish in what it described as detrimental to the local fishing industry.

“We expect that the new agriculture secretary will totally abandon the burdening import-liberalization schemes. Instead, he should pivot agricultural policies towards strengthening local production through sufficient government assistance to our fishers and farmers especially in critical times,” Pamalakaya spokesperson Ronnel Arambulo said

The group demands the boosting of the productivity of small fishers and make the country food self-reliant.

PAMALAKAYA also cited economic assistance in times of natural calamities especially typhoon and other ecological disturbances such as fish kill and red tide.

It is also calling for sufficient production subsidy amid soaring prices of oil products and other prime commodities.

The government must ensure that Filipino fishers can make use of marine resources within the territorial and traditional fishing grounds, according to the group.

PAMALAKAYA is also asking for the prohibition of all types of conversion and reclamation of coastal communities and fishing grounds that displace fishers and destroy marine and aquatic resources.

The fishers’ group said that previous natural calamities, such as Typhoons Odette and Agaton, devastated the livelihood of fisherfolks by damaging their fishing equipment, destroying coastal areas, and forcibly displacing them from their communities.

PAMALAKAYA also factors in the continuous Chinese occupation in the West Philippine Sea that make Filipino fishers abandon their traditional fishing grounds due to intimidation and hostile presence of Chinese forces and vessels.

“These are all doable measures to ensure that we will not fall short on fisheries production and that our country can be food self-reliant. All it takes is the new administration’s political will to strengthen our agriculture and fisheries industries by putting an end to liberalization policies that open our floodgates to imported and cheap products to the detriment of our local food producers,” said Arambulo.