Several board members have taken the provincial government to task for not delivering on its promise to allocate a livelihood assistance fund to fishermen who are affected by the present “closed season” policy on the catching of live fish.
Board Member Winston Arzaga said the provincial government had earlier announced it was putting aside P5 million to assist the sectors affected by the fishing ban, in addition to its promise to distribute seaweed propagules to encourage them to go into seaweed farming as an alternative form of livelihood activity.
The fishing ban took effect recently and will last until March 31,2018. Covered in the ban is the gathering of Leopard Coral Trout or Red Suno (Plectropomus leopardus), Green Grouper or Loba (Epinephelus coioides), and Tiger Grouper or Lapung-baboy (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus).
Arzaga recalled in a privilege speech Tuesday that the provincial government’s commitment was made during a consultation called by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).
“Ang alam ko si governor ay may commitment na magbigay ng magagandang livelihood. Hanggang ngayon ang mga mangingisda natin humihingi ng tulong dahil ang ayuda para sa kanila ay hindi pa siguro naibibigay,” Arzaga said.
He noted that fishermen affected by the ban are facing financial difficulties especially with the Christmas season approaching.
He also added that the provincial board already did their part which is to approve the budget for the program.
“Mas maganda kung tingnan natin kung ano na ang nangyari sa delivery ng assistance pati na rin ‘yung mga ipinamimigay natin na seaweeds, kung ito ba ay may magandang epekto o umabot ba sa mga kababayan natin na naapektuhan ng closed season,” he said.
Board Member Leoncio Ola said the provincial government has signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the affected sectors before the ban was implemented.
“Ang pagkakaintindi ko d’yan, ang province nag-commit ng P5 million pero may MOA ‘yan,” Ola said.
However, Myrna Lacanilao, former Livelihood Unit Program manager, told Palawan News she was not aware of the funding assistance.
“Marami kasing components ‘yung livelihood, iba-iba pero wala kaming definite P5 million for that at wala kaming ganoon kasi wala kaming ganoong kalaking pera. Hindi ko alam ‘yan eh,” she said.
The legislators said they will invite the PCSD to shed light on the matter in a committee meeting.
The 151-day ban is aimed at allowing the coral reef fishes to regenerate by not disturbing them during the season which was believed to be the time period when they produce and hatch eggs.