BFAR projects to protect CValley’s aquatic resources

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TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan: The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Cagayan Valley (Region 2) has launched two projects that aim to push dramatically the conservation and protection of fisheries and aquatic resources, as well as uplift the socio-economic conditions of fishermen.

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Dr. Milagros Morales, BFAR regional director, identified the projects under the Department of Agriculture as Project MMK and Project Basil.

Morales said MMK (Malinis at Masaganang Karagatan) aims to “recognize outstanding initiatives and contribution of coastal towns and cities to sustainable fisheries development.”

In the region, the towns along the coastal areas of Cagayan province are Santa Praxedes, Claveria, Sanchez Mira, Pamplona, Abulug, Ballesteros, Aparri, Buguey, Gonzaga, Santa Ana, Gattaran, Baggao and Peñablanca, while Isabela province’s costal towns are San Pablo, Maconacon, Divilacan, Palanan and Dinapigue.

Project MMK, also known as the National Search for Outstanding Coastal Community, will identify coastal towns and cities that have exemplary initiatives and accomplishments in protecting aquatic resources.

According to Morales, these initiatives and accomplishments include efforts to combat illegal fishing, establish marine protected areas, keep coastal waters clean of domestic solid and liquid wastes and protect and rehabilitate mangroves.

She said these towns or cities should have accomplished or implemented unique operational schemes on coastal resource management and have initiated programs with local government-funded budget for coastal and fisheries resource management.

This year, Morales added, the stakes are high during the national awarding on October 20 with first prize at P30 million; second prize, P18 million; and third prize, P10 million.

At the regional level, the prizes will be P2 million, P1 million and P500,000 for first, second and third, respectively which will be in the form of fishery livelihood projects.

Morales said Project Basil, also known as the Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa, aims to rejuvenate the country’s major bodies of water to optimize their economic benefits, enhance fisheries toward sustainability and repopulate indigenous species in support of biodiversity conservation and food sufficiency.

She added that nationwide, the project covers at least seven major lakes and six major river basins including the Cagayan River Basin in the Cagayan Valley region.

Morales said the project to be undertaken for five years (2018 to 2022) will seed Cagayan River and its tributaries with 12.5 million fingerlings.

“The project envisages a scientific approach in order to meet its goals to be done through social preparation, resource profiling, habitat restoration, rationalized fisheries enhancement and monitoring and evaluation,” she added.

Morales explained that while BFAR’s Philippine National Aquasilviculture Program involves planting of millions of mangrove propagules, Project Basil entails planting of water-resistant trees like freshwater mangroves, catmon, bangkal, camachile and bamboo.

“Under Project Basil, there will also be hiring of Bantay Laot [River Wardens] to help enforce fishery laws within their respective localities,” she said.

BFAR Region 2 officials said the agency has started preparatory works under Project Basil, which is aligned with the currently implemented National Inland Fisheries Enhancement Program that aims to restore five lakes and 20 reservoirs in the region.

“We call on our local government partners to critically take part in both projects, as undoubtedly, both will have a very big impact on the restoration of fisheries and aquatic resources and thus, contribute to uplifting the socio-economic conditions of our fisherfolk,” Morales said.

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