Press Release
March 17, 2007

Recto wants DOE to study gas discount scheme for fishermen
Gas eats up 80% of their income

Senator Ralph Recto seeks a better deal for millions of fishermen and he wants government to provide them with fuel subsidy that would lead to lower prices of fish and other marine products.

"Uncontrolled increases in gasoline prices would eventually kill municipal fishing," Recto warned, "since 80 percent of the expenses in fishing goes to the purchase of fuel for motorized bancas."

This being the case, Recto asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to think creatively and hatch a scheme that would reduce prices of gasoline used by subsistence fishermen and small fishing operators.

He stressed that since the DOE has successfully implemented a rebate scheme for jeepney drivers and bus companies, it might as well provide the same treatment to fishermen, who are responsible for providing cheap protein to 89 million Filipinos.

In 2000, the country had 177,627 registered motorized bancas, 3,601 big fishing vessels. The marine fisheries sector also caught 3.37 million tons of fish valued at P113.2 billion in 2002.

Recto said the gas subsidy has a direct bearing on food security, particularly now that fishermen fan out farther than their traditional fishing grounds and consume more fuel.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said in a recent study that the share of gas and oil to the total fishing expense of a coastal or municipal fisherman ranges from 31 percent for those who use shrimp gillnets, to a high 80 percent of a "drift hook and line" fisherman.

Fishermen who use the traditional beach seine, in which a net is pulled to the shore, spend 40 percent of their income to buy gas, Recto added.

Even commercial fishermen who supply a third of the country's needs would also be hit by unwieldy increases in oil prices.

The cost of diesel comprises 89 percent of a shrimp trawl's expense while in long line tuna fishing, up to 69 percent of expenses goes to fuel, Recto said.

He noted these figures illustrate just how dependent fishermen are on costly fossil fuels and confirms as well industry estimates that fuel accounts for half of the price of tulingan (frigate tuna), galunggong (round scad), matangbaka, dilis (anchovies), alumahan, tambakol, bisugo (sea bream), lapu-lapu (grouper) and talakitok (snapper).

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