By James Konstantin Galvez Reporter
In a bid to promote simplified and standardized registration system for the fisheries sector, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) launched on Wednesday the National Program for Municipal Fisherfolk Registration (FishR).
In a media briefing, BFAR Director Asis Perez said that FishR program aims to promote simplified and standardized registration system that would help local government units (LGUs) comply with the requirement of Republic Act 8550, or the Fisheries Code of the Philippines.
Under the Fisheries Code, municipal and city local government units are mandated to maintain a registry of municipal fisherfolks, with the intention of identifying priority assistance programs for them.
“We have devised mechanisms to ensure the full implementation of this program, which admittedly is long overdue, in close partnership with all coastal cities and municipalities across the country,” Perez said.
“Our simplified registration form, which is fisherfolk-friendly, will include registration certificate and identification card that LGUs may customize to reflect their official seal,” he added.
Perez said that the data generated may be plugged into a central base housed at the BFAR main office in Manila, wherein LGUs can request the bureau to analyze and in turn be translated to local fishery programs.
“For our part, we want to recognize BFAR’s real beneficiaries. We will use the data to generate its own programs for coastal municipalities, their fisherfolks and organizations,” he said.
FishR is open to all workers in the fisheries sector to include municipal fishermen, fish vendors, fish farmers and all other workers in allied industries.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the information on fisherfolk relevant to their welfare and fisheries and coastal resources conservation will be established through the FishR program.
“The registration will provide national agencies and LGUs with basic information for setting up fisheries management interventions anchored on fair and equitable allocation of access rights and ecosystem-based conservations measures,” Alcala said.
Access to programs
Alcala said that through the FishR program, fisherfolks will have access to government assistance packages, including a P200-million medical and health insurance for them and their families.
Also, they will have access to government assistance packages, especially in times of disasters such as floods, droughts, oil spill, fish kill, red tide and other calamities.
“Once completed, national and local government officials can now easily identify qualified beneficiaries and channel their assistance more expeditiously,” he added.
To ensure full compliance by the fisheries sector, the BFAR has earmarked P30 million, which will be distributed to 899 coastal cities and municipalities in the form of incentives.
“Through this, fisheries technician officers from the local government units in all coastal cities and municipalities, who will facilitate in the fisher folk registration, will receive an incentive of P15 per fisherfolk registered,” Perez said.
“All municipalities which completed the registration will qualify for at least two million worth of fishery projects by 2014,” he added.
Initially, BFAR will initially implement the FishR in eight key marine biodiversity areas in the country with support coming from the Ecosystem Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (Ecofish) Project, a program of the DA that is being supported by the United States Agency for International Development (Usaid).
The areas include Lingayen Gulf, Verde Island Pssage, Ca lamianes Group of Islands, Ticao-Lagonoy-San Bernardino Strait, Danajon Bank, South Negros, Surigao del Norte and Sulu archipelago.