“As elected leaders, I believe it is our responsibility to ensure economic sustainability, food security and empowerment of the small and marginalized,” said Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada, LP, of the 4th District of Quezon Province.

Tañada aims to address several fishery problems through his proposed legislations. The first bill, House Bill (HB)  323, seeks to rectify the definition of municipal waters as it was encoded in the Fisheries Code of 1998.

“By using the archipelagic principle in delineating municipal waters, we give local fishers greater access to the municipal waters,” Tañada added.

The second bill is HB 1151 which seeks to modify the definition of fishing gears provided by RA 8550. This said law classifies fishing gears as ‘passive’ and ‘active’. HB 1151,   proposes to use a different categorization –  ‘allowed’ and ‘not allowed’  for easier classification of gears based on use, handling and its depletive effects on the marine environment.

“This bill will greatly help local governments in making ordinances with regard to fishing gears.  It provides them a clearer system of identification of gears. It wouldn’t be difficult for them to identify which is which,” Tañada explained.

“We are also out to get those illegal fishers and violators of fisheries law. So we are proposing stiffer and higher penalties for them through House Bill 1267.”

HB 1267 amends RA 8550 by providing for stiffer penalties for those who would violate the fisheries law. Also, this bill incorporates a section on SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation) suit which Wikepedia defines as a litigation filed by a large organization or in some cases an individual plaintiff, to intimidate and silence a less powerful critic by so severely burdening them with the cost of a legal defense that they abandon their criticism. In the case of the fisheries sector, SLAPP suits are cases commonly filed against LGU-deputized persons who have apprehended illegal fishers and other violators. This section seeks to help these volunteers by giving them protection from unfounded and irrelevant suits.

The fourth bill is by far the most important bill. House Bill 1803 addresses the problem of depleting marine resources in our country. Several studies have been done with the regarding our marine resources, and majority has similar generalization: that our marine resources are fast declining. A study by the World Fish Center even warned that only 10kg of fishery products would be available  for consumption per  person annually starting 2010.

“We have to deeply ingrain in our people’s minds that our marine resources are depleting rapidly and that 2010 is just three years away.  Allowing our marine resources to breathe and thrive deserve our utmost  attention and serious action,” Tañada stated.

And so Tañada filed House Bill 1803.  It mandates every coastal municipality to establish a marine-protected area (MPA) in at least 15% of their municipal waters. Of the 915 coastal municipalities, only 439 or a little bit less than half, have well-established MPAs. These MPAs should provide a safe breeding ground for the different species of our fishes, as fishing is prohibited in the area. This will allow the fishes to reproduce and mature.

“Fishery products should continue to contribute to Filipino families’ protein needs. Preservation of our marine resources is imperative for the food security of our people and livelihood of small fisherfolks ,” Tañada added.


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