Candidates urged to adopt “blue agenda” in presidential campaign
Press Release Date: April 20, 2016
Location: Manila, Philippines
Non-government organizations call on presidential candidates to include oceans conservation and sustainable fisheries in their electoral platforms, as they prepare for the presidential debate in Dagupan City on April 24.
Panagat, an informal network of more than 20 NGOs pushing for policy reforms in fisheries, noted that the Philippines is among the top fish-producing countries in the world. However, government leaders remain indifferent in providing solutions towards sustainable fisheries management and marine conservation.
The National Stocks Assessment Program of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has reported that 10 out of the 13 major fishing grounds in the country are overfished. Meanwhile, the Philippine Statistics Authority has stated that fisherfolk belong the “poorest of the poor” due to lack of resource access.
“Our way of life is closely connected to the sea. Our leaders must address these pressing issues, and uphold our constitutional right to healthy oceans,” said lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice President for Oceana Philippines, one of the members of Panagat.
Other members of the coalition include the NGOs for Fisheries Reform, WWF-Philippines, and Greenpeace. The group will present the “Philippine Blue Agenda for Sustainable Fisheries” during the last leg of the presidential debate on April 24 at the University of Pangasinan in Dagupan City.
Panagat is calling for institutional reforms such as the establishment of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, in order to strengthen the regulatory functions of BFAR and address conflicting policies and overlapping functions among government agencies.
The blue agenda includes the implementation of fisheries recovery plans, and the establishment of more marine protected areas to improve fish catch and preserve areas with a high level of marine biodiversity. It also highlights the need to improve fishery law enforcement and the operation of environmental courts.
“We need to strengthen our institutions, such as enforcement agencies and the courts, to ensure that our environmental rights will not be violated. More importantly, we need to protect our resources so we will have something to leave for the future generation,” Ramos said.