Some Filipino fishermen continue to fear the West Philippine Sea for their livelihood due to the uncertainty of their safety there, a group said Sunday.
According to Pablo Rosales, president of the Unity of Fishermen’s Associations (PANGISDA) and a fisherman from Bataan, “matindi pa ang takot ngayon ng mga mangingisda na pumunta dahil wala pang tiyak na garantiya ng kanilang kaligtasan.”
They said they were afraid that a Chinese vessel would collide with a boat from Mindoro in 2019 and other forms of harassment.
In an interview with TeleRadyo, Rosales said that half of them were deprived of what they used to earn in the ’80s and ’90s, compared to the previous years when China was aggressive in the West Philippine Sea.
He said about 3,000 fishermen from Pangasinan, Zambales, and Bataan, along with their families, were affected and Filipinos who also consume their catch.
According to Rosales, when they were still able to fish freely in the West Philippine Sea, they could catch large and beautiful kinds of fish such as tuna, talakitok, malasugi, and lapu-lapu. This was equivalent to a large income for their family.
Some Filipino fishers still worried about going to West Philippine Sea
“Iba ngayon dahil una, takot ka dahil doon sa kawalan ng assurance na makapangisda ka nang malaya dahil sa presensya ng mga barko ng mga dayuhan, halimbawa barkong pangisda ng Tsina… At siyempre, nakatanim sa amin yung takot sa kanilang mga ginawa na binobomba yung mga mangingisdang tinataboy, binabangga, tapos inaakyat… halos pinipirata ang huli,” he said.
So far, their colleagues are only fishing in “municipal waters.” But, because it is “depleted” and “too exploited,” Filipino fishermen “have almost no livelihood.”
Others simply went into other jobs, such as construction.
“Hinihikayat namin ang mga mangingisda na tumindig para sa ating mga batayang karapatan sa pangisdaan,” said Rosales.
In July, a US-based expert said the dumping of human waste and other pollutants from Chinese ships anchored in the South China Sea and parts of the West Philippine Sea is said to be causing severe damage to marine resources.