Beginning this year, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) will focus on developing the country’s aquaculture and mariculture by up to 60 percent to attain the total fish-sufficiency target of the government.
Written by: Eireene Jairee Gomez / The Manila Times
In an interview with The Manila Times on Monday, BFAR Director Eduardo Gongona said the agency will exert all administrative efforts to scale up fish production in aquaculture which would also make the country at 2 percent surplus by 2022.
The Philippines’ fish supply currently comprises 60 percent captured fish and 40 percent aquaculture and mariculture.
Gongona emphasized the need to reshape the components of the country’s fish supply to also lessen the country’s dependence on importation and respond to the needs of the fish-eating population.
“We get only about 60 percent of fish from our seas since we are into rehabilitation and it will take years because the effects of destructive fishing practices for the past 20 to 30 years continue to make our fishermen suffer from it,” Gongona said.
“We’re okay with that 60 percent fish production from our seas but we need to improve our aquaculture by developing it from 40 to 60 percent in 10 years. In just four years, [or by 2022] we will be fish-sufficient and have a 2-percent surplus,” he added.
Gongona said BFAR would start on “filling the gaps” on the local fish production. Of the 60 percent rate of local harvest, he said about 40 percent is being wasted due to lack of post harvest facilities such as ice-making equipment and storages for fingerlings.
This is even worsened by the illegal and destructive fishing practices that take away about P5.07 trillion from supposed earnings of the country’s fisheries sector, he added.
“I was directed by [Agriculture] Secretary [Emmanuel] Piñol to focus on delivering the post harvest facilities needed by our fishermen in all parts of the country. The important ones are the ice-making machines, ice plants, cold storage as well as vehicles which could preserve the quality of fish,” said Gongona.
To do this, the director said BFAR had already coordinated with the Department of Agriculture (DA) to extend loans to various fishing communities, cooperatives and associations nationwide.
Gongona said the loaning program—the Agriculture and Fisheries Machinery and Equipment (AFME) Loan Fund—covers farm equipment, processing facilities, post harvest facilities and machinery. It is intended for farmers and fishermen’s associations and cooperatives. Loans under the program have an annual interest of only 2 percent payable in 8 years.
To augment fish production, Piñol earlier said the DA is targeting to provide ice-making facilities in 91 fishing grounds until the end of the closed fishing season in March next year.
Through these measures, Gongona said local fish production will improve, ensuring greater income for the fishermen and stabilize supply and prices of the staple in the market.