ZAMBOANGA CITY – With a total production of 500 million cans of sardines a year in Zamboanga City alone, Kiko Pangilinan reiterated that the creation of a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources will further bolster the fisheries sector.
“In 2014, the fisheries sector earned Php 242 billion. In Zamboanga City, 12 of the 13 sardine factories in the country produces 500 million cans a year, providing jobs to a workforce of more than 30,000. With adequate support, we can double that production, boosting the incomes of all sectors involved- particularly our fisherfolk,” Pangilinan said.
Speaking in the sardines’ capital, Pangilinan also highlighted the imbalance between agriculture and fisheries.
“The Philippines is one fifth land, four fifths water. Yet less than one fifth of the agriculture budget goes to the utilization of the fisheries sector. A Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is needed to strategically develop and utilize the country’s marine resources,” he said.
According to the 2014 Fisheries Profile of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, there are 1.6 million fisher folk in the whole country, producing more than 4.6 million metric tons and contributing to 1.6% of the country’s total GDP. However, the poverty incidence among the sector is 39.2% – 0.9% higher than farmers.
“The fisherman is even poorer than the coconut farmer and the rice farmer. Focusing on agricultural services and support systems will benchmark increased incomes,” Pangilinan added.
“Curbing poverty starts in the rural areas. We have 1.5 million municipal fishermen. Having a cabinet-rank official focusing on the needs of these 1.5 million will ensure that there is a dedicated body focused on addressing the needs and concerns of the fisherfolk,” he said.
The creation of a Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is one of the former Senator’s priority legislation once re-elected into a Senate seat. Pangilinan is seeking his third term in the Senate under the Liberal Party.