• Doubling of fishery output eyed this year

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    With the increase in this year’s budget, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) aims to double output for the Philippine fishery sector.

    BFAR Director Asis Perez said that the national government increased the agency’s budget for this year by 7 percent to P4.6 billion, which will allow it to utilize more funds to implement livelihood programs and projects for the fisheries sector.

    At the same time, Perez encouraged employees to double their effort at work as more output is expected following the increase in BFAR’s budget.

    For 2014, BFAR plans to acquire 27 units of 40-footer and 70 units of 30-footer multi-mission vessels to strengthen government visibility and sea patrol activities in areas inside the Philippine waters.

    “We aim for the total deployment of these floating assets by end of the year,” Perez said.

    The BFAR chief also said that the agency expects consistency of good performance by common fish commodities such as bangus (milk fish), galunggong (round scad) and tilapia after registering during the last three quarters of 2013 5.49-percent, 21.07-percent and 2.39-percent increases in production, respectively.

    Perez, however, said that the increase in production is not the only indication of a flourishing fishery sector.

    He said that BFAR is targeting distribution of post-harvest equipment and establishment of at least 21 fish ports and seven Ice Plant and Cold Storage (IPCS) facilities in strategic locations this year, to raise the value of fishery products and commodities.

    Following grant of fishing access by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Australia in December 2013, the Philippines will continuously send its fishing fleet to tuna-rich High Seas Pocket 1 until 2017.

    “This guarantees the country some 40,000 to 50,000 metric tons of tuna catch per annum equivalent to P4-billion income for the fishery sector,” he said.

    Fisher folk and individuals whose livelihood is related to fishing may still register their names under the National Program for Municipal Fisherfolk Registration (FishR) at their local barangay or municipal halls.

    To date, there are already close to 400,000 registered fisher folk in the country based on the bureau’s FishR database system.

    BFAR this year will also widen the scope of the National Stock Assessment Program and include other areas in the country. This will ensure a more extensive assessment of the country’s major fishing grounds—currently at only 20 percent—for effective management.

    Meanwhile, barely six weeks into its launching, the “Ahon! Sampung Libong Bangka Para Sa Dalawampung Pamilya” has rallied a total of 4, 272 units of fishing boats or bancas out of materials and cash contributions from partner agencies, civil society and the private sector.

    These fishing boats are expected to benefit around 8,540 fisher folk-families in typhoon-hit coastal communities in the Visayas.

    “BFAR is maximizing preparations for the completion of the remaining 5,728 units of fishing boats to be distributed in February, next month,” Perez said.

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