Press Release
May 17, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today proposed the inclusion of two key fisheries programs in the 2006 national budget that aim to boost production of marine products and augment the income of subsistence fishermen.

Pimentel batted for the setting up of fish hatcheries for aquaculture in selected regions at a cost of P50 million and of infrastructure for seaweeds and abalone culture in selected coastal areas in Mindanao at a cost of P30 million.

We urgently need to promote the development of fisheries to fight hunger and promote employment, the minority leader said as the Senate opened its plenary debates on the proposed P1.06 trillion budget.

Pimentel said it is ironic that the Philippine territory consists of two-thirds water and only one-third land and yet the budget for agriculture and fisheries remains disproportionate and biased against fisheries.

The fisheries sector, which registered the highest growth rate (6.4 percent) among all agriculture sectors in 2005, remains neglected despite the national leaders claim that they support fisheries development.

According to Pimentel, the budget for fisheries development continues to lag behind other traditional products like rice, corn and sugar.

The P419 million budget proposed for the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in 2006 is very inadequate given its mandate to implement the Fisheries Code and the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA).

The latest SWS survey shows that 16.9% of Filipino households have experienced hunger compared to 5.1% in September 2003. This represents 2.8 million families or more than 16 million poverty-stricken Filipinos who are unable to eat the food they need for their daily sustenance.

The development of the fisheries sector, according to Pimentel, helps fight hunger since fishermen and their families are the poorest of the poor in our society. Fisheries programs also promote employment for the poor since these are labor-intensive and involve whole families and communities all over the country. Based on BFAR data, close to a million Filipinos are dependent of aquaculture and commercial and municipal fishing activities for their livelihood.

Pimentel is also the author of Senate Bill 1139 creating a separate Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) to promote food security and ensure the preservation and proper development of the countrys archipelagic waters and marine resources

The production of seaweeds started as a private sector initiative in Central Visayas in the 1980s. It has since then grown into a globally competitive industry worth more than 4billion pesos as the area for seaweed culture expanded to Mindanao, particularly the Sulu Sea. The additional funds for seaweeds and abalone culture will allow more poor families to be part of this program, added Pimentel.

Funds for building more fish hatcheries for aquaculture, according to Pimentel, will benefit fishing communities and local governments along the Pangasinan-Ilocos coastal areas, Cagayan, Isabela, Camarines Sur, Quezon, and Bicol region.

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