Out of 3 directives for Philippines Fisher Folk only one brings a smile



While the South China Sea task Force of the Philippines is encouraging fisher folks to take to the seas and make their living despite the China fisheries bullying crisis, the Philippines Department of Interior and Local Government is warning fishermen to abide Philippines laws and conservation directives, in a terse statement released hours ago.

Add to that law enforcement directive, police by presidential decree have been instructed to arrest any person violating curfew and not wearing a mask according to a statement issued by the Philippines Presidential Palace.

The ‘go fish’ task force directive “is extremely welcome news,” says one family speaking in unison with many Filipino fishing folk in coastal towns, villages and small cities along the West Philippines Sea, “especially those who were confused about what government policies might be” said a fisherwoman.

Hunger for food and hunger for an income is now driving crews to make ready for a week or two or more at sea. “Many boats left today, more will go on the weekend,” say coastal families Melissa Hemingway checked in with. Most do not want to be identified.


by Sharon Santiago with files from Melissa Hemingway


 

FPMag meets fishing crew

FPMag meets fishing crew. Photo Art/Cropping/Enhancement: Rosa Yamamoto FPMag


“Filipinos are hungry in the midst of a thrashing the country is taking”, from the pandemic, says the sister of a fisherman FPMag interviewed for this article. Her role is preparing the catch for delivery and liaising with sellers at the markets.

“Basic food prices are [exorbitant],” she says. “Medical costs for families with an infected person are financial disasters for those families seeking help from the public health system. Unemployment and hunger are big issues along with food supply issues in many regions up and down the coast,” she said.

Despite the China tensions the Philippines government says to ignore the China fishing ban from May 1 to August 16, and says, “go fish”.

“It’s not a card game,” says one fisherman FPMag spoke with. “We are putting our crew at risk so we must be careful. We must fish in our nearest traditional fishing grounds and to avoid the Chinese boats, enter the areas discretely, quickly and efficiently and not linger. Crews must support each other and not engage the Chinese militia boats but should also keep a watch for Philippines Coast Guard vessels and make solidarity identification to them clear.”

This fisherman with his family of four children and two parents to care for all in the same home, lives on the west coast of Luzon Island and says he will be heading out to sea this weekend, and hopefully returning in a week with a salted catch. His crew is eager and the skipper has made arrangements to sell his catch.

They want to say no more than that.

CHinese militia fishing vessels

Philippines vessels work within a subsistence food supply culture from coastal towns while China having depleted its coastal waters now operates an industrial poaching regime. Its vessels as shown in this image are government supported steel hulled long distance vessels built for harvesting by any means. Photo Art/Cropping/Enhancement: Rosa Yamamoto FPMag

Asian families need to eat.

This South China Sea story is told too often with warships but thousands of these small fishing vessels is what it is really all about. Asian families need to eat. Photo Credit: Micheal John/FPMag  Art/Cropping: Rosa Yamamoto FPMag

A press release from Secretary Eduardo Año, head of the Philippines Department of Interior and Local Government said local government units are  to strengthen their enforcement of the Philippine Fisheries Code and other existing policies for the protection of coastal communities and fishing folks. Banning the use of massive artificial lights used to illegally stun fish and enhance the catch is one of the issues.  The PH Fisheries Code of 1998 prohibits use of superlight and other artificial light sources to attract fish during the darkness of night.