A looming fish shortage in the country is inevitable if the presence of Chinese militia remains in the traditional fishing grounds in the West Philippine Sea, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said on Sunday.
Senator Francis Pangilinan (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Pangilinan said the government should not allow a fish shortage to happen as this will surely raise fish prices in the end.
“We already have a pork shortage problem. Let’s not allow a fish shortage because for sure it will raise fish prices,” Pangilinan said.
On Saturday, fishermen of Zambales blamed their dwindling catch to the presence of at least 20 Chinese vessels anchored around 111 kilometers from San Antonio.
According to the fishermen, they usually earned as much as P4,000 per fishing trip but they are now coming back almost empty-handed due to the scarcity of catch.
Pangilinan said it was imperative that the government take immediate action against the twin threats of China’s territory encroachment and fish shortage.
He also said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) should also step up and provide the necessary support to affected Filipino fishermen.
“As early as now, we should heed the warning of our fishermen on the issue of their dwindling catch. We are glad that the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) takes this into account in their diplomatic protests,” he said.
“The Department of Agriculture as a whole must prepare for contingency to avoid a fish shortage,” he also said.
The senator lamented China was not only violating the country’s sovereignty but is also robbing its people of income and food.
“Small-scale farmers and fishermen are always on the losing end. They are the poorest and almost always taken advantage of,” the lawmaker lamented.
Pangilinan said the government must learn from the African swine fever (ASF) debacle, which entered the Philippines due to loose biosafety controls.
“Now, the incursion is blatant…if the West Philippine Sea is not properly guarded, we will lose our marine wealth,” he warned.