BFAR allots P1-B to mitigate El Niño effect

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THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has earmarked nearly P1 billion to mitigate the impact of El Niño, which has already affected over 100,000 fisherfolk in 58 provinces nationwide.

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BFAR national director Asis Perez said Thursday that a total of P983.77 million was allotted for projects under the Fisheries Sector National Fisheries Program. This includes intensified resource rehabilitation measures, environment-friendly livelihood projects and resources protection through law enforcement.

Some P84.96 million will be allocated for livelihood projects in municipal fisheries; P104 million for deployment fish aggregating device or payao; P225 million for the prevention of illegal and destructive fishing; P225 million for national inland development program;

P63.93 million for commercial fisheries support; P195.24 million for the promotion of seaweed farming areas; P84.96 million for monitoring, control and surveillance of harmful algal bloom in aquaculture farms; and another P683,910 for projects tagged for climate change mitigation.

“We are expecting a decrease in fish production in natural bodies of inland waters (lakes, rivers, dams and reservoirs); while high temperature hastens decay of organic matter and promotes plankton bloom which could result to fish kills,” Perez said.

A decline in production in fish ponds, fish cages and fish pens in freshwater areas is also expected because of increasing salinity because of a low water supply. High temperatures will also affect the breeding and growth/survival of fry and fingerlings; the growth of blue algae (microcystis sp) results to “lasang-gilik” in farmed tilapia and bangus.

In the aquaculture sector, fish farmers in freshwater ponds and cages will be most affected in the first quarter of 2016.

Estimated losses for shrimp farms could reach 5000 metric tons or at P177 million. Meantime, Tilapia grow-out crop is seen to contract by 27 percent at 69,740 metric tons with a value of P1.15 million; hatchery output at 35 percent or 280 metric tons; and fry/fingerling valued at P115 million.

In total, Perez said that catch from both municipal and commercial fishing could contract by 23 and 20 percent, respectively, by last quarter of 2015 up to the first quarter of 2016.

To ensure the stable supply of fisheries products, BFAR initiated the promotion of alternative livelihoods such as shellfish farming and value-adding for municipal fisherfolk; farming of saline-tolerant tilapia; observance of good aquaculture practices; as well as disease monitoring and surveillance for shrimp farms.

For the commercial fisheries sector, the agency is now accelerating the deployment of support structures and technologies for the optimum utilization of Benham Rise, approximately 250 kilometers east of Isabela province.

“Commercial fishing vessels will be provided with technical assistance and information to enable them to fish the area after the deployment of payao,” it said.

The weather bureau Pagasa has warned that El Niño will intensify in the last quarter of 2015 and into the first half of 2016.

It is projected that higher temperatures will exceed the severe conditions the country felt in 1997 and 1998.

The full effect of the weather phenomenon will be worst felt around February and March when entire country is projected to get only 20 to 30 percent of normal amount of rainfall.

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