Monday, 6 February 2012

Pamalakaya slams govt plan for more mariculture parks

THE fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) is nixing the government’s proposal to put up more mariculture parks in the country.

Fernando Hicap, national chairman of Pamalakaya, said putting up more mariculture parks as proposed by the Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) will not be beneficial to small fishermen and the Filipino consumers.

In fact, he said it will further reduce the fishing ground of small fishers who rely on the 15km municipal waters to catch fish.

Hicap stressed that the DA-BFAR’s proposed P1.9 billion mariculture project will only benefit corporations that will engage in massive fish production exported to other countries in the future. 

He said the establishment of more mariculture parks may dissuade fishers to catch fish and end up being mere mariculture park employees.  Not all fishers who will be affected by such project, however, may be able to land jobs in these proposed mariculture parks, Hicap warned.

He called on the group’s members to oppose the plan.

Pamalakaya has 43 provincial chapters and regional chapters in Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Negros and Panay Islands, Northern and Far South Mindanao regions.

“This P1.9-billion mariculture project of DA and BFAR is meant to convince us to quit fishing and instead offer cheaply regarded labor to corporations engaged in the mass production of export fishery items such as grouper or lapu-lapu, crabs and tilapia, the country’s leading export in this regime of unfair trade and global capitalist exploitation,” Hicap said.

“This is business as usual for large-scale corporate giants in aquaculture sector, but this project shows no promise as far as small fishers are concerned.

“The small fishermen will not benefit from mariculture parks that require huge capital for operation and maintenance.

This P1.9-billion mariculture project is a hoax and curse to small fishermen,” he added.

The agriculture department is allotting P1.9 billion to finance major initiatives that would involve the construction of 62 mariculture parks and 9 regional and municipal fish ports in the country.

Agriculture Sec Proceso Alcala said the program will employ small fisherfolk in the establishment of community-based hatcheries and mangrove farms where mariculture parks will be constructed and operated. 

He said the raising of export fishery crops like lapu-lapu, crabs and tilapia will provide jobs and income to poor fisherfolk families.

BFAR Director Asis Perez said the bureau has initially alloted P280.8 million for the program and had initially identified 31 coastal areas where these mariculture parks will be established. 

He said each coastal area will be planted with 3,000 mangrove species.  Perez said each fisherfolk participant will be paid P 5.50 per mangrove, and each family could earn P16,500 for the project.

According to Hicap, the project will only benefit the rich who has capital to fund such intensive business.

He said the promotion of mariculture will limit fishing in coastal areas and delimit the scope of fishing areas, particularly the 15-kilometer municipal fishing grounds reserved for small-scale fishermen.
Hicap said once mariculture parks are established, fishing activities in municipal areas will be grossly reduced because mariculture parks will occupy the traditional fishing areas.

Pamalakaya said mariculture parks will be declared as no fishing areas or off limits to fishing of small fishers.

The militant group said while the part of the program includes the planting of mangrove trees, such purpose will be defeated by the promotion of mariculture which is highly dependent to feeds and other inputs which are toxic both to the environment and people’s health. -- BusinessMirror

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