Press Release
April 2, 2016


As one of the poorest basic sectors in the country, small fisherfolks and coastal communities will be among the focus of attention of Senator Grace Poe once elected.

Poe, the leading presidential candidate based on surveys, said she would push for the inclusion of more fisherfolk families to the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, increase their membership in the National Health Insurance Program and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities with the help of local government units and the private sector.

Poe also called on the University of the Philippines (UP) and other state universities to help improve access to fisheries education by opening up additional courses and offering scholarships to the fisherfolks or their children.

"It is ironic that in an archipelagic country where fishing communities dominate all islands, people are so poor and are unable to get essential government services," she said.

"My platform of inclusive growth and my promise that the poor must not be left behind makes the plight of our fishing communities a centerpiece concern of my presidential campaign," Poe added.

Earlier, Poe said that under her administration, P300 billion would be set aside from the national budget every year for the agriculture sector, which includes the fisheries sector.

Alongside basic services for the fisherfolks, she said that resources should also be poured in educating coastal communities on the practice of sustainable fishing to help them adapt to climate change.

Poe identified the following initiatives that should be done to uplift the condition of the fisherfolks:

*Increase and conserve fishery resources by better management of local marine areas;

*Rehabilitation and regeneration of coastal and inland ecosystems to address habitat degradation;

*Provision of livelihood-related concerns. (e.g. swap of illegal gears with legal gears; fish processing); provision of infrastructure and post-harvest facilities development for municipal fisheries such as cold storage facilities and fish landing centers;

*Making available incentives to deputized members of the Bantay Dagat (insurance, minimum pay); and,

*Passing a Bantay Dagat Law that will protect the members in their performance of duties.

As to access to education, Poe said that UP Visayas, particularly its Miagao campus is the leading fisheries school in the country and its linkages with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resource (BFAR) and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) located in Iloilo makes it a key academic institution that can promote fisheries development through teaching, research and extension programs.

Central Luzon State University, Mindanao State University (Naawan campus), and Pangasinan State University (Binmaley campus) also have very strong fisheries programs and have been designated by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) as Centers of Excellence or Centers of Development in recognition of their expertise.

Despite the presence of very good schools and the archipelagic nature of the country, fisheries education is underfunded and government has not been encouraging students to enrol in fisheries courses.

Under Poe's plan, UP, MSU, CLSU, PSU will receive additional funding to: 1) expand its BS Fisheries program to enrol more students, particularly the children of fisherfolks, through additional scholarships, better laboratories and more faculty; 2) develop ladderized programs (with the help of CHED and TESDA) so that students can get jobs even before completing a four year course; and 3) provide training programs for fisherfolks in the proper use of technology and equipment and alternative livelihood for fishing communities.

The Philippines is an archipelago of more than 7,500 islands with a coastline longer than the US coastline. It is 7th among the top fish producing countries with production of 4.7 million MT contributing 2.46 % of total world production.

The country is also the world's 3rd largest producer of aquatic plants (including seaweeds), with production of 1.56 million MT contributing 5.78% of the total world production.

"Sadly, our more than 1.4 million fisherfolks remain mired in poverty and unable to get the benefits of our economic growth," Poe said.

"The next administration should do something to end their miseries and give them better lives," she added.

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