MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday warned young jobseekers against accepting a potentially deadly job in the fishing industry.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said jobseekers, particularly fish workers, must be wary and avoid getting employed in companies using “paaling,” a traditional method of fishing that has apparently replaced “muro-ami.”
“Paaling is a very risky and life-threatening occupation,” Baldoz said, noting that a number of deaths were already reported in Central Visayas as a result of such employment.
According to Baldoz, “paaling” is a deep-sea compressor fishing similar to “muro-ami” where fishermen, using crude apparatus, usually of junk iron and steel materials, pound coral reefs to scare and drive the fish into a net laid out on the ocean floor.
The crude apparatus, weighing from four to eight kilograms, are fastened to the waists of fish workers who dive into the ocean only with the aid of breathing tubes attached to a compressor.
Other than this, “paaling” fishermen don’t use any other safety gear, such as body swimsuits, gloves or rubber flippers.
“There is a very real danger that ‘paaling’ fishermen could drop the tubes while diving in the depths and deprive themselves of oxygen. There is also the risk that they could get hurt while swimming or walking on the ocean floor because of the absence of protective gear, as indeed this had happened to some of the 250 fishermen,” Baldoz said.
Baldoz said there is the fatal danger of decompression, which could bring instant death, as in the case of the four workers employed by a fishing company based in Malabon.
She said Pesca Maharlika Marine Resources Inc. is now under investigation for recruiting and exposing 250 fishermen-workers to the risks of “paaling.”
Baldoz said, DOLE is already planning to come out with guidelines for employers and workers engaged in deep-sea fishing.
“I have also directed our regional office in Central Visayas to intensify their campaign advocacy and education on the dangers of ‘paaling’ fishing to ensure that workers are not lured into the fatally dangerous occupation,” she said.
Baldoz said Negros Oriental is a “source” province of deep-sea fishermen, thus the need for local folk to be sufficiently warned of the hazards of the job. –Mayen Jaymalin The Philippine Star