Senator Francis Pangilinan said while the Philippines’ trade revenues from fishery reach an average US$954-million each year but the country’s 1.7-million fisher folk are among the poorest due to lack of clear-cut agenda for the sector.
Pangilinan proposed the creation of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) that will tap the vast marine resources of the Philippines to improve the lives of poor fisher folks who face harsh impact of typhoon, fish kill and marine degradation.
He said fishery has a gross value added worth P1.4 Billion, only next to the agriculture sector.
But despite the vast potential of marine resources, Senator Pangilinan said poverty incidence in coastal towns is at 43.2 per cent with each fisherman earning an average P178 per day.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food is conducting public hearing on the creation of DFAR to address the deepening poverty among fisher folks and improve marine resources of the country.
“The fishery sector has a huge potential but the Philippines only utilizes 273 hectares of it 50,000 hectares of waters,” said Pangilinan.
He also argued that the sector is not prioritized by the Department of Agriculture (DA), with only 7 per cent of its total budget is allocated to the fishery and aquatic sector.
“The country’s vast marine resources can make the Philippines an Aquaculture Superpower,” said Pangilinan.
He cited that France’ Oyster at mollusk industry earns 600 million euros or P32 billion per year.
In the US, the lobster industry provides an annual P42 Billion while revenues from Bangladesh’ shrimp industry reached US$ 456 million in 2006.