International advocacy group Oceana and artisanal fisherfolk are calling on the country’s incoming administration to continue the reforms made in the fight against illegal commercial fishing in municipal waters to attain food and nutritional security and alleviate worsening poverty in coastal communities in the Philippines.

“While the outgoing Duterte administration has made considerable progress in efforts to restore our ocean’s abundance, much still needs to be done to attain food security in the Philippines amid the global challenges affecting our climate, fuel and basic commodities. Our municipal waters can be a major source of protein again for the Filipino people. But in order to do that, the government must continue to protect our fragile marine habitats and the preferential rights of our artisanal fishers to the municipal waters,” said Gloria Estenzo Ramos, vice president of Oceana, during the launch of the Atin ang Kinse campaign at B Hotel.

Data on marine capture fisheries annual production from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed production at its peak with 2.4 million metric tons (MMT) in 2010 and decreasing to 1.9 MMT in 2020, indicating a reduction of 25.7 percent or 496,599 MT.

“In 2020, the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that fisherfolk were still among the poorest of Filipinos along with farmers and individuals residing in rural areas. This year, the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, we urge the government to put an end to commercial fishers’ continued violation of our laws and our artisanal fisherfolk’s rights as guaranteed in our Constitution and Amended Fisheries Code,” said Ramos.