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Speech of Senator Cynthia Villar on 1st National Fisheries Industry Summit/1st National Bangus Congr

Speech of Senator Cynthia Villar

Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)

1st National Fisheries Industry Summit/1st National Bangus Congress

Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC), Pasay City

Maraming salamat sa Department of Agriculture, particularly sa Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), sa imbitasyon upang ako ay maging bahagi ng kauna-unahang National Fisheries Industry Summit, na kasabay rin ng kauna-unahang National Bangus Congress.

I am happy to be here with all of you today. Lalo pa at ngayong araw ay ila-launch ng BFAR ang five-year national program dubbed as the Comprehensive National Fisheries Industry Development Plan (CNFIDP) 2016-2020, which seeks to increase the output of the country’s fisheries sector.

As you know, the Fisheries Code of 1998 or R.A. 8550, as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) 10654 mandated the formulation of the CNFIDP. As the current chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, I was the principal author and sponsor of R.A. 10654 (An Act to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, Amending R.A. 8550). Kasama ang Mababang Kapulungan ng Kongreso (House of Representatives), DA, BFAR, mga

fisherfolks and their communities at iba pang mga concerned individuals and organizations, pinursigi talaga naming lahat na maisabatas ang R.A. 10654.

The enactment also caused the lifting of the yellow tag imposed by the European Union (EU), which if not immediately addressed, would cause a ban on the exportation of fish products to one of the country's largest markets.

Personally, as principal sponsor of the measure, one of my main goals also is to balance the need to increase marine life production and the need to protect the sustainability and biodiversity of our oceans. Nakakaalarma na rin ang mga scenario na naririnig at ipinapakita ng mga eksperto tungkol sa overfishing at iba pa. Sabi nila ang ating mga karagatan daw ay magiging “virtual deserts” sa 2050 kung hindi natin mapipigil ang illegal fishing.

The amended law will level the fishing legislation at par with other countries, especially with regard to conservation measures regarding threatened aquatic species, highly migratory species, and other marine resources. Based on the 2010 Census of Marine Life, 90 percent of the large fish were already depleted due to overfishing.

It is our common interest to make sure that there is continuous fishing which would only be possible if we prevent all forms of activities that jeopardize the sustainability of our resources. The amended Fisheries Code will benefit fishing entities who abide by the law.

Sa pagpasa ng amendments sa Fisheries Code, hindi namin ginalaw ang fishing in municipal waters because these are governed by the Local Government Code. The law provides that no commercial fishing is allowed within the 10.1 to 15-kilometer area from the shoreline in municipal waters, except small and medium fishing vessel duly authorized by the local government through its local chief executive pursuant to an appropriate ordinance.

Sa pamamagitan ng bagong batas, mas mahigpit na ang monitoring ng illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing beyond the municipal waters hindi sa municipal na para sa ating mga small fisherfolks. Dahil in the past, we have heard of incidents when some commercial fleets have been able to fish in municipal waters, which are reserved for municipal fisherfolks. Meron din na ina-underreport ang kanilang fish catch.

A highlight of the law is the creation of the Fisheries Management Fund, which will be sourced from the collection of fines and penalties under the law for commercial and deep-sea fishing companies. By increasing the penalty against illegal fishing activities, we are not only

discouraging fishing companies from committing those acts, we are also putting up a fund that will help the fishery sector—25 percent of the fund will be allocated to BFAR for fishery law enforcement and 75 percent will be allotted to provide assistance to poor fisherfolks.

Kaya ang mas mataas na penalties mula sa violators ay mapupunta rin sa mga small fisherfolks at kanilang mga pamilya. Importante sila sa atin dahil ang mismong Food and Agriculture

Organization (FAO) ang nagsabi na ang food security ng lahat ng bansa ay nakasalalay sa mga small farmers and fisherfolks. According to FAO, 70% of food we consume globally comes from them. Based on official statistics, 1.5 billion of people globally are estimated to be involved in

family farming in over 500 million small farms worldwide. Ang seguridad ng pagkain ng ating bansa, at ng buong mundo, ay nakasalalay sa mga maliliit na mga magsasaka. In fact, 2014 has been designated by United Nations as the International Year of Family Farming. Family farmers are a crucial part of our efforts to reach sustainable food security. As such, we need to develop and implement specific policies, programs, and strategies.

Natutuwa ako na lalong pinag-iigting ng DA at BFAR ang pagbabantay sa illegal, unreported at unregulated (IUU) fishing. Recently, nabalitaan ko na dinagdagan pa ng dalawang units ng multi-

million vessels ang mga floating assets natin. At iyan ay bungsod pa rin ng naipasa natin na amendments to the Fisheries Code, which mandates an integrated approach on fisheries management, including monitoring, control, and surveillance programs to curb and deter IUU

fishing practices. Magandang development iyan para lalo natin ma-protektahan ang ating mga karagatan at mga yamang-dagat. Bilang isang archipelagic country, we should observe the strict

implementation and enforcement of laws and policies to better safeguard areas within our sovereignty and jurisdiction.

The amendments that we have put in place in our fisheries code

also seek to alleviate poverty and to provide supplementary livelihood

among municipal fisherfolks, who, together with farmers, remained among the poorest in the country. Based on the latest study, fishermen posted the highest poverty incidence for nine basic sectors in the Philippines at 41.4 percent. That incidence level for fisherman had

remained unchanged since 2006. Definitely, that has got to improve. Natugunan na ang ating need for a strong fisheries law. BFAR’s budget for 2016 has also increased to PhP6.7 billion, which will be used to fund livelihood programs and projects for the fisheries sector.

Patuloy rin ang iba’t iba pang programa ng BFAR katulad ng Community Fish Landing Centers (CFLCs) na itinatayo sa mga coastal communities para mabawasan ang postharvest losses sa fisheries. Ang pagkakaalam ko ay 523 units ang target nila at ang majority niyan ay i-establish

ngayong taon.

At ngayon naman meron na rin tayong comprehensive national plan—ang CNFIDP na ready na for implementation. Kaya, we have reasons to be really optimistic about the future growth and

development of the Philippine fisheries sector. I was able to participate in some of the consensus-building consultations, particularly the fisheries stakeholders’ workshops, and I

know the amount of work that went into the finalization of the CNFIDP. Of course, we hope that it will be effectively implemented, so that we can truly ensure the significant growth in the Philippine fisheries sector over the next five years.

I always emphasize na napakaimportante sa atin ng fisheries sector, because we are an agricultural country. The fisheries sector also provides direct and indirect employment to over one million Filipino people.

Thus, we should always be vigilant in addressing important issues related to the fisheries sector that also have an impact socially, politically and environmentally on our country and on us, Filipinos. Kailangan mapalaki ang kita ng ating mga small farmers and fisherfolks para ipagpatuloy nila ang kanilang ang pagiging farmers and fisherfolks kasama ang pamilya sapagkat sila ang pag-asa nating magkaroon ng food security and sufficiency o sapat na pagkain sa ating bansa sa darating na mga panahon at sa mga susunod na mga henerasyon pa.

Maraming salamat at mabuhay ang agrikultura!

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