By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
A fisherfolk group demanded the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to provide economic assistance to fishermen amid the El Niño phenomenon.
Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) National Chairman Fernando Hicap said the government’s calamity fund must be mobilized for the fishers and farmers, who are the “frontline casualties” of the prolonged dry spell.
PAMALAKAYA said in a statement that the catch of small fishers declined from seven to ten kilos to only three kilos per fishing trip.
“Small fishers are now enduring the diminishing fish catch due to El Niño. Oftentimes, there’s only an empty net to bring home,” Hicap said.
Hicap said fish and other marine species migrate to deeper and cooler waters, making it more difficult for small fishers to continue their production.
The drought also triggers ecological disturbances, such as massive fish kills and red tide phenomenon, he added.
Ronnel Arambulo, PAMALAKAYA-Laguna de Bay coordinator, said the farm gate prices of fishes at the Laguna de Bay is at an “all time low” due to supplies being of lesser quality because of the intense heat.
“This reduces further whatever income small fishers can bring home to their families,” Arambulo said.
The farm gate price of tilapia saw a 40-percent drop from its pre-drought price of P50 per kilo to only P20 per kilo. Meanwhile, milkfish or bangus is now only P50 per kilo, which is 71 percent lower than its previous price of P70 per kilo.