Philippine Undersecretary for Agribusiness and Fisheries, Cheryl Natividad-Caballero, reported that for the first three quarters of 2021, the fisheries industry produced 3,118,525.02 MT. Among the three sub-sectors, 50.88 percent of the total production came from aquaculture, 26.88 percent from municipal fisheries, and 22.24 percent from commercial fisheries.
The figure obtained in the first three quarters of 2021 was 1.94 percent lower than 2020’s 3,180,086.28 MT and was attributed to the decrease in commercial fisheries production. The municipal and aquaculture sub-sectors posted an increase of 1.19 percent and 0.89 percent, respectively.
BFAR received lower funds
The Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) could use more financial backing to support its vision to achieve food security, said Natividad-Caballero, in an interview.
At the same time as it defended the plan to import fish to address shortage, she assured that BFAR received lower funds compared to other agricultural agencies.
“The Secretary William Dar has spoken, and we cannot underestimate his wisdom. As head of the Department, his approval and or issuances and guidelines clearly set the agency’s directions and guidance,” Caballero said, in response to critics questioning the DA’s move to import 60,000 metric tons (MT) of pelagic fish to plug projected shortfall in the first quarter of 2022.
“Recently, Dar signed the Certificate of Necessity to Import citing some PHP4-billion damage to the fisheries subsector after Typhoon Odette last year and reduced fish production due to the closed fishing season.“
In a previous statement, Dar said imports will only fill in the deficit or what cannot be produced locally as the country “needs to rely less” from other nations to improve its economy.
BFAR has been investing in aquaculture infrastructures such as hatcheries to produce quality fry and fingerlings, lessen importations, and generate more income and livelihood to fish farmers.
Fish workers suffer huge losses from typhoon Odette
The DA-BFAR continues to expand its relief and recovery drive in coastal communities affected by Super Typhoon Odette.
The Bureau aims to effectively communicate the needs of fisherfolk in times of humanitarian crisis through livelihood programs such as distribution of seaweed propagules, and seaweed farm implements, provision of cages, and repair and provision of boats, distribution of fishing gears/paraphernalia, repair of damaged Community Fish Landing Centers, and rehabilitation of Technology Outreach Stations and hatcheries.
“DA-BFAR’s multi-mission vessels have been deployed to fast-track the recovery of Odettestricken coastal areas.“
More than Php 6 million worth of relief goods and food packs including frozen fish, rice, sardines, clothes, and hygiene kits have been distributed to affected fisherfolk in Regions IV-B, VI, VII, VIII, X, and Caraga.
The Bureau was able to provide Php 32.5 million worth of repair materials for damaged wooden and fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP) boats including marine plywood, marine engines, copper nails, paints, and other materials to Regions VII, VIII, and Caraga.
Aside from the repair materials, 150 units of 20-foot FRP boats were turned over to Region VII, 48 units of 20-foot FRP boats and 150 units of repair materials for damaged boats went to Region VIII, and 150 units of 20-foot FRP Boats and 250 units worth of construction materials for wooden boats went to the heavily affected region of Caraga.
“Based on the latest Fisheries Damage and Loss Assessment Report, it has been estimated that the fisheries sector in Regions IV-A, MIMAROPA, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI and Caraga has incurred a total of Php 3.97 billion worth of damages and losses due to Typhoon Odette.“
“The effect of ‘Odette’ is on aquaculture, especially in Negros and Guimaras and other small scale commercial and municipal fisherfolks,” Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Director for Western Visayas Remia Aparri said in an interview.