Fisherfolks opposes Sorsogon Rep. Dette Escudero’s proposed hatchery

The Movement of Fisherfolk firmly stands on its opposition against the establishment of the hatchery in Gubat, Sorsogon during the BFAR’s Review and Stakeholders Consultation for the Amendment to FAO 264, S. 2020 in Quezon City yesterday, August 30.

According to Save Gubat Bay Movement (SGBM), the proposal will only add to the damage of the livelihood of the fishermen in the town due to the construction of the coastal roads and legitimizing the ban on catching crablet in accordance with Fisheries Administrative Order No. 264-2020.

SGBM stated that the representatives of the LGU-Gubat in the presence of the Gubat Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) allegedly showed lack of concern for crablet workers during the consultation with Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Crab expert Emilia T. Quinitio stated that it is not necessary to put a hatchery in areas that have an adequate supply of natural crabs. Her statement was considered and agreed to by the LGU Panay representative during the consultation.

On August 8 last year, Sorsogon 1st  District Representative  Marie Bernadette “Dette” Escudero filed House House Bill No. 3274 or an Act Establishing a multi-species marine hatchery in the municipality of Gubat, Sorsogon in order to improve fisheries productivity and boost the local aquaculture sector in the province.

“The proposed hatchery in Gubat, Sorsogon will only monopolize the livelihood of the small and marginalized groups in the coastal areas. Instead of prioritizing them, they prioritize the proposal to put a crab hatchery in the town of Gubat, even though it has enough natural resources from local fishermen to keep the endemic sea crab population sustainable,” SGBM stated. 

Last January 19, Gubat Mayor Ronnel Lim requested Gubat Vice Mayor Valentin Pura to allocate one hectare of land in Barangay Cogon for the purpose of establishing a multi-species marine hatchery. Barangay Cogon is among the 13 barangays in Gubat town affected by the coastal road projects.

While the proposal did not go through a public consultation, Ernie Gallardo of Cota na Daco Crablet Workers Association (COTAW) expressed that crablet workers are against the plan.

“Instead of helping us, they favor those who are planning to build a hatchery,” Gallardo said. “We don’t want a hatchery because we have a lot of supply in the wild. What they only mean is that they will build a hatchery so that the crab business will be monopolized by them—they will do business and the harvesters will continue to be banned.”

Gubat town is a second-class municipality in Sorsogon wherein fishing is considered the primary source of income and livelihood. It is also considered one of the fastest-growing tourist economies in Sorsogon province.

In the first quarter of 2019, the overall fisheries production in the province of Sorsogon was recorded at 14, 815 metric tons, including Aquaculture production at 390 metric tons, which was a 61% decrease compared to 2018.

During the period, the top species produced were mudcrab which accounted for 53% of the total Aquaculture production followed by mussels with 26%, seaweeds with 13%, tiger prawn with 4%, milkfish with 3%, and tilapia with 1%. | Red Magtoto