THE majority of Filipinos are willing to cooperate with the government to protect the country’s water resources but are not aware of their responsibilities under the laws, according to a survey.
A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey commissioned by Oceana Philippines found out that almost 7 in 10 Filipinos believe that they can do something to protect the country’s oceans.
These Filipinos said they are willing to volunteer for activities, contact a local government employee, sign a petition to influence government policies, contact a national government and traditional/community leaders to help solve fisheries issues.
Furthermore, Filipinos listed the top 3 ocean problems as:
pollution/waste management, illegal/destructive fishing and climate change.
However, 84 percent of Filipinos are not aware of fishermen being apprehended in their respective areas for illegal fishing.
Furthermore, 7 in 10 Filipinos are not aware of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, according to the survey.
The survey noted that 4 in 10 Filipinos consider overfishing in the country as a very serious problem. But 8 in 10 Filipinos became aware that the Philippines was named as the world’s top producer of fish and other seafood products only by the time of interview.
Only 18 percent of the country’s population is aware of such feat, according to SWS survey.
“It is inspiring that Filipinos are willing to help to adress fisheries issues. We just have to find out how to tap that [willingness],” Oceana Philippines Vice President Gloria Estenzo-Ramos told reporters after sharing the results of the survey.
“But I am surprised of the very low awareness on the Fisheries Code and on illegal fishing and prohibited acts,” Estenzo-Ramos added.
The survey also found out that at least 5 in 10 Filipinos said fish and seafood products sold in the market are now smaller, more expensive and have fewer varieties.
They also noted that catch from the seas has shrunk compared to 10 years ago.
Filipinos eat fish or seafood five times in a month, according to the SWS survey.
“The results of the survey validate previous data that there is overfishing in the country. Everyone feels the impact of such due to higher prices, lesser supply, smaller fish and lesser catch,” Estenzo-Ramos said.
“This should be a call for action for government—and not just government but for nongovernmental organizations and communities to work together,” she added.
Due to the results of the survey, Estenzo-Ramos renewed the call for the creation of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to have a better focus on the country’s water resources.
“If there is no department, then there is no direct access to the President. If it remains as a bureau, then the support would be stagnant just like what is happening now: the DA is focused more on land and less on fisheries,” she added.
The survey, titled “Feasting or Fasting on Fish?” was conducted from September 23 to 27, 2017, with a total 1,500 respondents aged 18 and above nationwide interviewed face-to-face.