Negros fisherfolk to hold rally to seek gov’t action vs poverty

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Members of the Negros Occidental Federation of Small Fisherfolk Association with PRRM-Negros Manager Edwin Balajadia (left) at a press conference Wednesday.*

A fisherfolk group in Negros Occidental will hold an indoor rally on Monday, May 29, ahead of National Fisherfolk Day, to call on government to address the problems of poverty among small fishing communities and to strengthen programs for climate adaptation.

The Negros Occidental Federation of Small Fisherfolk Association (NOFSFA) together with the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM)-Negros held a press conference Wednesday, May 24, at the Negros Press Club in Bacolod City to raise the concerns of the small fisherfolk and coastal communities.

NOFSFA , in a press statement, cited the prevalence of illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing and the continued taking of berried and juvenile blue swimming crabs, hunger and mass poverty that grips the small fishers and fish workers amid the pandemic;

Unabated environmental degradation amid rising threats of climate change and illegal marine mining, lack of relevant fisheries laws and plans in many coastal local government units, and lack of budget support and democracy in fisheries.

PRRM-Negros Area Manager Edwin Balajadia, one of the convenors of NOFSFA, said that the country celebrates fisherfolk day on May 31, and NOFSFA will hold an indoor rally at the Negros Residences, Bacolod City, on May 29 .

NOFSFA is a group composed of 80 fisherfolk organizations from 13 towns and cities of the province with almost 4,000 members.

Balajadia said that during the indoor rally, they will discuss the poverty incidence among the coastal communities and will call for government action to alleviate it.

“Almost 30 percent of the poverty incidence comes from the fisherfolk and coastal community,” he said.

Apart from poverty, Balajadia also highlighted the importance of involving the marginalized sector by strengthening the Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council (FARMC).

“In terms of fisheries governance, the government should strengthen the participation of small fishers through FARMC and oppose destructive projects for coastal and marine ecosystems such as marine mining,” he said.

Strengthening of climate adaptation policies was also raised during the press conference as fishing communities are affected by the changing weather and rising sea levels.

Balajadia said the government should also allocate more funds for the fisheries sector and create a Department of Fisheries.*

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