Press Release
April 21, 2016


To curb unregulated fishing in the country's waters, Sen. Grace Poe wants to incentivize community-based volunteer groups that keep watch on Philippine coastal waters.

The independent presidential candidate said she is counting on a participatory approach to help salvage the dismal condition of the fisheries industry, which employs 1.4 million Filipinos.

"Our waters are gravely exploited. Our fishermen are almost left with no fish to catch. We must empower civilian sea patrol forces so that the livelihood of our fisherfolk could be protected," Poe said.

Data from the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) show that fish production has been steadily declining over the past five years. Around 10,000 incidents of dynamite fishing are still being recorded every day.

Among the incentives Poe proposed for volunteers is giving them allowance and social insurance coverage such as membership in the Social Security System and Philippine Health Insurance Corp.

The senator is also pushing for a modernized monitoring, control and surveillance services for BFAR to effectively suppress illegal fishing and enforce Amended Fisheries Code. The amendments carry stiffer penalties for violators and require fishing vessels to install a monitoring device to ensure that fishermen stay within the right fishing zones.

"Municipal waters should be reserved for municipal fisherfolk, but commercial fishing vessel operations in municipal waters have become more rampant," Poe noted.

She said the lack of government support for the fishing industry has contributed to the fact that fishermen are the poorest sector in the country. Government statistics reveal that poverty incidence among fisherfolk is 40 percent, much higher than the national average of 25 percent.

According to the Asian Development Bank, 51 percent of the total Philippine population live in coastal areas.

"The Philippines is an archipelagic country with more water than land. The fact that our fishermen remain the poorest is unacceptable. We should transform the industry, empower our fisherfolk and protect them from uncertainties and vulnerabilities," Poe said.

In 2013, the Philippines ranked seventh among the top fish producing countries in the world, contributing 4.7 metric tons or 2.5 percent of the total world production. However, according to the BFAR, 10 out of 13 fishing grounds in the country are already heavily exploited.

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