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JUNE 7, 2011

NR # 2428C

Solon urges PNoy to address

the destruction of coral reefs and fishkill

A lawmaker today urged President Benigno Aquino III to implement a total

fisheries reform program to address the large-scale destruction of coral reefs and the
fishkill in some parts of the country.

In a privilege speech, Rep. Kaka Bag-ao (Party-list, Akbayan) called on the

government to implement the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1988, particularly the provision
on the Comprehensive National Fishery Industry Development Plan (CNFIDF), a 25-year
development plan initiated by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Bag-ao said the government must allocate a sufficient budget for the full and strict
implementation of the CNFIDF.

The Arroyo government has ordered the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in 2005 to implement the program.

According to Bag-ao, the CNFIDP has been developed to provide the holistic and
strategic framework to manage the fishery resources of the country under the Fisheries
Code of 1998 or Republic Act 8550.

Bag-ao said the program was prepared to address the depleted fishery resources
brought about by the excessive fishing, destructive fishing, and degradation of fishery
habitats through their conversion into other economic uses and due to negative impacts
from land-based activities.

Bag-ao also urged Congress to fast track the approval of a bill pending in both
houses of Congress creating the National Land Use and Management that will rationalize
the utilization of land and water resources.

The Coastal Zoning and Resource Management Plan under the bill is a highly
important feature for the identification and utilization of marine protected areas,
productive fishing grounds and fisherfolk settlement, among others, Bag-ao said.

Likewise, Bag-ao urged President Aquino to sign the Executive Order on the
Establishment of Task Force Fisherfolk Settlement to address the need of this sector for a
decent human settlement.

“The shocking news caused by poachers who plundered 21,000 pieces of black
coral and killed 161 endangered turtles and other marine life is just but the tip of the
iceberg. The lack of strict regulation has endangered the sources of fish and aquatic food,”
Bag-ao said.

Citing a BFAR study, Bag-ao said out of the 27,000 square kilometers of coral reefs
in the Philippine waters, over 70% are in a poor state. Only 5% are in excellent condition.

Bag-ao said the country’s poor protection of the fisheries resources has far-reaching
and devastating effects, including the degradation of the marine biodiversity, which is one
of the world’s richest.

“The proliferation of fishponds not only affected the state of the mangrove forests
which is an important ecosystem, it also brought other problems such as pollution brought
about by the use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and overfeeding which the inland
waters are also experiencing, like the recent fish kills,” Bag-ao said.

Bag-ao also wants the government to provide a mechanism to ensure that 40% of all
management structures, both national and local, should be represented by women
fisherfolks as stipulated in RA 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women.

“As the country has been experiencing extreme weather events for the past several
months, there is a need for the necessary data to manage risks and minimize damages
brought about by typhoons and droughts that have negative effects on critical ecosystems
manifested in an increase in the number of cases on coral bleaching and loss in marine
biodiversity,” Bag-ao said. (30) jsc