The fisheries sector, still recovering from last year’s slump, is expected to slow down again this year following the massive devastation caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said.
In a telephone interview, BFAR Director Asis Perez said that fisheries production may suffer a significant drop in the last quarter of 2013, noting that typhoon-affected areas represent about 25 percent of the country’s total fish output.
“We are concerned about our fisheries sector as majority of our municipal and commercial vessels in the Visayas were wiped out by the typhoon,” Perez said.
The government earlier said that fisheries sector is expected to bounce back strong in 2013 following interventions by BFAR to reverse the two consecutive years of slump in fishery production.
To recall, fisheries have just started to record gains in the first nine months of 2013, posting a 3.38-percent production increase. The sector grossed P181.7 billion at current prices, which represented 18.42 percent of the total agriculture production during the period.
“All of these gains, may be offset by the huge damage sustained by the sector,” Perez added.
Besides limited production in the Visayas, BFAR is also implementing a four-month fishing moratorium in Zamboanga Peninsula, which started December 1.
To ensure fast recovery in affected areas, Perez said that they are now implementing an immediate rehabilitation that will ensure immediate livelihood assistance to affected fisher folks.
Dubbed as the “Ahon! Sampung Libong Bangka para sa Dalawampung Libong Pamilya,” the government initiative aims to rally 10,000 fishing boats or bancas in three months to help rebuild the livelihoods of some 20,000 fisher folk-families affected by the typhoon.
To jumpstart this initiative, the bureau has already earmarked some P50 million, of which the bulk will be used to build the initial 3,000 bancas. The remaining amount will go to the construction of 350 units of shallow-water payao, which the bureau will install to provide fisher folk with targeted fishing areas.
“This is before the supplemental budget. We hope to provide another 40,000 bancas once the additional funds are already in placed,” he said, adding that they are in the process of reviewing the target beneficiaries in the typhoon-stricken areas.