The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) on Friday said it has reached the one million mark in registering fisherfolk nationwide under the National Program for Municipal Fisherfolk Registration (FishR).
In an interview at the Department of Agriculture, BFAR Director Asis Perez said the data from the registration program is being used in providing insurance benefits and other assistance to fishermen and their families.
“These benefits include health care and personal and crop insurance coverage,” according to Perez.
Under Republic Act 8850, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998, municipal fisherfolk must be registered for the purpose of identifying priorities, managing the municipal waters and monitoring fishing activities and other related purposes.
Since 1998, only 50,000 fishermen have been registered due to slow implementation of the program.
But after an extensive nationwide preparation for implementation of FishR in the second quarter of 2013 and program launching in January 2014, BFAR was able to register over one million fishermen out of the estimated 1.7 million nationwide.
“We are finally addressing a task that had seen a backlog for 16 years,” Perez said.
“Our target is to complete the listing of all the 1.7 million fisherfolk by end of 2014. Through a close collaboration with local government units, BFAR will come up with a comprehensive list of duly registered fisherfolk,” he added.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the welfare of the municipal fisherfolk is one of the priorities of the Aquino administration.
According to Alcala, the registry is very useful in implementing programs by BFAR’s partner agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and Philippine Crop Insurance Corp.
“Currently, the FishR registry is being cross-matched with the list of National Household Targeting System-Poverty Reduction of the DSWD and with the Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture of the Department of Budget and Management,” he said.
Alcala noted that when fisherfolk register, they will automatically be given a PhilHealth number and personal and crop insurance coverage that will include identification for fishing boats, seaweeds and other aquaculture stocks in case of calamities.
“These are only among the initial benefits we have for our municipal fisherfolk. We will make sure that every figure and information we will get from FishR will be translated to concrete programs that will further develop the livelihood of our fisherfolk,” he said.