100,000 fishermen need aid due to El Niño: Recto
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said at least 100,000 fishermen are also in need of relief from the effects of El Niño.
Recto said farmers are not only the ones who need help from the government, as can be gleaned from television footage of fish ponds drying up in Central and northern Luzon.
Aggravating the calamity, he said, is the fact that the Chinese have been shooing away Filipino fishermen from their traditional fishing grounds in Panatag Shoal.
Recto cited the BFAR warning that the rise in surface and sub-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean may reduce by 447,000 tons, or 20 percent, the annual volume of fish caught in the open sea.
He said the volume of fish caught within 15 kilometers from the shores – or municipal waters – could go down by 279,000 tons or 23 percent.
BFAR also warned that El Niño may affect fish catch in 58 provinces.
Recto said the fisheries sector deserves aid because it contributes P200 million to the economy annually as well as 39 kilos of fish that every Filipino eats annually.
“Fishermen are also among the poorest of the poor, with two in every three living below the poverty line,” he said.
He said half of the country’s catch – or about 2.34 million metric tons – come from aquaculture, including fresh – and brackish-water fishponds now affected by the dry spell.
Recto said BFAR has budgeted P673 million to cushion El Niño’s effects on domestic fisheries but the amount must be augmented with money from the P39-billion Calamity Fund.
He said a chunk of the P6.7-billion Quick Response Fund could also be given to the fisheries sector.