In a statement yesterday the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) called for the suspension of the provision in the amended Fisheries Code of 1998 or Republic Act 10654 which requires the Boat Registration (BoatR) and Fisherfolk Registration (FishR) which it deplored as “another burden for small fisherfolk who barely earn enough to sustain their families’ daily expenses.”
This, even as Pamalakaya said it will hold “nationally coordinated protest” on the 19th anniversary of the Fisheries Code of 1998 on February 24 to “call for the abrogation of the said law and push for a new and genuine fisheries reform law that will truly be for the interest of the small fisherfolk.
The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the BoatR was designed to fast-track and complete the nationwide fishing vessels registration with capacity of three GT and below while the FishR aims to register fisherfolk in the country to come up with a national database system.
Pamalakaya said under the BoatR and FishR, fisherfolk are supposed to annually register their fishing boats and gears and even themselves with their respective municipal government with corresponding fees.
Pamalakaya chairman Fernando Hicap, who is a fisherman in Rosario, Cavite said he has paid at least P5,000 for the registration of his fishing boat and other gears for this year.
“This registration scheme is ridiculous and absurd. Why would the government require the fisherfolk and even their fishing gears to get registered? Fishing sector is the poorest in the country; they bear the brunt of commercial fishing proliferation and the decreasing income due to decreasing fish catch in the municipal fishing waters. What they need is concrete government support and aid, not another hefty fees and taxes,” Hicap said.
Hicap also noted that the registration scheme is prone to corruption among local government and even officials.
“Local government units are empowered to impose exorbitant fees and regressive taxation in accordance with the Fisheries Code. Even before the registration scheme, fisherfolk were already paying different taxes and fees and it has become the milking cow and money making scheme of some local and national government officials,” he noted.