File photo courtesy of Pamalakaya.

The Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) is opposing the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ (BFAR) 3-month fishing ban on the catching and selling of galunggong or round scad in northeastern Palawan, claiming it will only further exploit fishery resources.

In a press statement Thursday, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap, said that under the present orientation, fishing bans like the one that started on November 1 in northeastern Palawan do not equate to the preservation of the fish species.

Hicap said it will even push the exploitation of the marine ecosystem since commercial fishing vessels will be encouraged to do “panic fishing” and cash in on fishery resources as long as they want before the galunggong ban period begins.

“These commercial vessels will fast-exhaust the accumulated fish when the fish ban ends, leaving less for small fisherfolks. In just a couple of nights of large-scale fishing operations, the fish species that were preserved and grown for three months will be easily depleted,” Hicap said in the statement.

Hicap, former Anakpawis party-list representative, added that it will also pose adverse impacts to the livelihood of small fishers and to poor consumers who depend on the galunggong as the primary protein source.

“The fish ban will bring economic disaster to the people of Palawan who directly and indirectly depend on galunggong. Fishers in Palawan can catch up to 20 kilos of galunggong per fishing trip and being enjoyed by communities who are able to buy the product for a very low price compared to the regular price in the market. Imagine what would be the lives of those people for three months,” he added.

Pamalakaya also expressed concern about the safety of the local fishermen who will be compelled to go out of the municipal waters to avoid where the ban is enforced.

He said instead of the “unjust fishing bans”, commercial fishing vessels should instead be strictly regulated to operate within municipal waters to prevent exploiting marine and aquatic resources.

If the galunggong ban will continue every year, Hicap said what will follow will be the Philippines importing round scad from other countries.

“Municipal fisherfolks are forced to venture farther from their traditional fishing grounds with their low-class motorized fishing boats and even in turbulent weather to sustain their production, jeopardizing their safety,” Hicap added.

“Tiyak na ang kasunod ng fish ban ay pagbaha ng mga imported na isda na lalong ikalulugi ng mga maliliit na mangingisda,” said Hicap.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.