Leyte fishermen to receive hybrid boats

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TACLOBAN, LEYTE: Small-scale fisher–folk affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda will soon be able to go back fishing thanks to a new hybrid boat developed jointly by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

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The boat will be the first to use both wood and fiberglass and will have a traditional Philippine design. Traditionally, boat builders use a specific type of protected hardwood tree for this purpose.

Following BFAR’s recommendations, FAO, through the support of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), has developed a new prototype that replicates the design of local boats or bangcas but uses fiberglass instead of hardwood.

This will help preserve hardwood trees and prevent illegal logging. FAO said the new boat has built-in buoyancy tanks and other features for floatability and durability.

“It is imperative that we restore fishing production capacity in a sustainable manner. The disruption to the fisheries sector caused by Yolanda over six months ago not only threatens the fishermen’s livelihood but the lives of other people who benefit from the fish distribution chain,” said José Luis Fernandez, FAO representative in the Philippines.

In order to foster sustainability, boat builders, NGO workers, local government technical staff and BFAR personnel will be trained in building and repairing the new hybrid boats. This knowledge will, in turn, be passed on to 3,000 boat builders and carpenters.

Additionally, FAO with the support of the DFID and the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department will provide materials to 2,900 seaweed farmers to restore seaweed farms.

Another 3 000 fish farmers engaged in cage farming of finfish and bivalves will be given stocking materials while 3,500 women will be given start-up capital for fish vending and processing. In addition to aquaculture programs, FAO will dedicate its efforts to post-harvest activities where many women are employed.

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