On National Fisherfolks Day, Cebu fishermen call for end to reclamation, illegal fishing

John Sitchon

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On National Fisherfolks Day, Cebu fishermen call for end to reclamation, illegal fishing

FISHERFOLK. Members of Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Mangingisda-Pilipinas (PANGISDA-Cebu) hold a fluvial protest in observance of National Fisherfolks Day 2024, along Mactan Channel in Lapu Lapu City, Cebu on May 31, 2024.

Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

Fisherfolk in Cebu hold a fluvial protest against the demolition of settlements and the encroachment of commercial fishing boats

CEBU, Philippines – Fisherfolk communities in Cebu celebrated National Fisherfolks Day, May 31, by holding a fluvial protest along the Mactan Channel in Lapu-Lapu City.

The Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Mangingisda (PANGISDA) Cebu Chapter led the fluvial protest from the Mactan Shrine to Lapu-Lapu City route and vice-versa.

The event was attended by the Nagkahiusang Mananahat sa Tingo (NAMATI), Hugpong sa Gagmay na Mananagat (HUGAMA), Kusog sa Gagmyang Mananagat (KUGAMA), and Nagkahiusang Mananagat sa Punta Engano (NAMAPE), Panaghiusa sa mga Mananagat sa Candagsao (PAMACAN), among other groups.

Around 100 fishermen on 62 pump boats took to the seas to air out their frustrations over the continued demolition of fisherfolk settlements for reclamation projects and the encroachment of commercial fishing boats in municipal waters.

“Gisaad sa [Philippine Fisheries Code] ang seguridad ug tabang para pagpalambo sa mga mananagat ug rehabilitasyon sa naguba nga panagatan apan dili ikalimud ang kamatuoran nga adlaw-adlaw gisagubang sa mga mananagat ug panagatan,” PANGISDA Cebu’s statement read.

(The [Philippine Fisheries Code] promises the security and assistance for the progress of fisherfolk and rehabilitation of damaged fisheries but the reality cannot be denied that fishermen and fisheries still struggle everyday)

HUGAMA President Crispin Caya told Rappler during a press conference that land conversion projects for resorts and hotels in Barangay Punta Engaño have pushed fishing communities farther away from their usual fishing grounds. Their neighborhood is known for being a popular tourist destination and the location of multiple commercial establishments.

Caya said many of their settlements are either going to be demolished or forced out in favor of the development of more reclamation projects. 

Amo gyud ning gipugngan ang reclamation kay daghan kaayo na diha nagum-om. Dili lang sa Lapu-Lapu (We are really trying to prevent reclamations because there are way too many. Not just in Lapu-Lapu),” Caya said.

In April 2023, environmentalists from the Save Cebu Movement called for a halt to a 203-hectare reclamation project initiated by the Lapu-Lapu City Government, which they claimed would harm food security and put the environment at risk. 

Unregulated commercial fishing

PAMACAN President Baldomero Ompad, a fisherman from Olango Island — an island east of Mactan, shared that they are challenged by the presence of large commercial fishing boats.

Magkahinay ang among panginabuhi sa pangisda kay ilaha man sudlon bisan sa gamay nga area (Our fishing livelihoods weaken because they enter areas no matter how small),” Ompad said.

The fisherfolk groups argued that based on Republic Act No. 10654, commercial fishing vessels are not allowed to operate within municipal waters meant for local fisherfolk.

Section 8 of Republic Act No. 10654 states that “except in cases specified under this code, it shall also be unlawful for any commercial fishing vessel to fish in municipal waters.”

The Olango fishermen said that their usual earnings of P400 per day in 2020 have dropped to just P200 per day ever since more commercial fishing vessels have started appearing in their area.

PANGISDA Cebu called on the government to faithfully implement the provisions of the Philippine Fisheries Code before thinking of amending provisions. –

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