Regional agency sets fishery sector review

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Scientists and economists at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Research and Graduate Study in Agriculture (Searca) will conduct an ex-ante assessment of Industry Strategic Science and Technology Plans (ISP) for fisheries in the Philippines.

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Also, Searca helped spearhead a workshop-convention in Bangkok that will make the food sector of Southeast Asia more resilient to climate change.

In partnership with the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) and University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Searca aims to know if the investments in ISPs could move the National Innovation System, and disseminate innovations among millions of fisher folk and operators of inland aquaculture ventures.

The agency stressed that it also seeks to determine how the ISPs abide by the four banner programs of PCAARRD, namely: strategic research and development (R&D); policy analysis and advocacy; technology transfer and capacity building.

Searca Director Dr. Gil Saguiguit Jr. said the institution will manage the resources for the implementation of the study, which will be conducted nationwide to find out just how viable the S&T innovations are, and whether they could be improved to raise fisheries output.

The assessment is covered by the ex-ante study of four major cultured species in the country, namely: milkfish, tilapia, shrimp and mudcrab.

In terms of volume of production, excluding aquaculture of seaweeds, the four species included in the study constitute 77 percent of the total inland aquatic output.

Milkfish contributed the largest share with 51 percent, followed by tilapia with 40 percent, shrimp with 7 percent and mudcrab with 2 percent.

The fisheries sector contributed 2.2 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010, Saguiguit said.

He added that the industry also accounted for 15 percent to the total value added of the agricultural sector.

In terms of output, the inland aquatic environment produced 56 percent, with the balance of 44 percent coming from marine aquatic resources, Saguiguit stressed.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) defined inland aquatic resources to include swamplands (fresh and brackish water), fishponds (fresh and brackish), and other inland water bodies like lakes, rivers and reservoirs.

There are two major sources of fishery products from this environment, namely: inland municipal fishery and aquaculture.

Aquaculture production contributes 93 percent of output, while municipal fishery only accounts for 7 percent of the output.

The fishery program of the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 targets “increasing competitiveness and sufficiency in fish and fishery products as a major component of the country’s food security program.”

In light of achieving those goals, bundles of S&T interventions in selected inland aquatic species have been proposed and/or put in place as part of the respective ISPs for the period 2011-2016 through 2020.

Among the specific interventions that were set to be implemented with PCAARRD/Department of Science and Technology funding are strategies aimed to enhance the broodstock management and hatchery practices for production of good quality fry; improve grow-out technology for increased output; and conduct genetics research for sustainable production.

While financial considerations and levels of effort relating to the aforementioned individual interventions as well as the overall budget and services provided to the ISPs may have been carefully deliberated upon, a better sense of whether or not the proposed resource allocations are in line with expected results is crucial.

Climate change issues
Meanwhile, six countries from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) recently sent their forestry and agricultural experts to a workshop-convention that tackled climate change issues affecting food security goals in the region.

The workshop, held in Bangkok, Thailand, from September 24 to 26, convened 16 farming and forestry experts from the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. It was supported by the Asean, the Asean Program on Response to Climate Change: Agriculture, Forestry, and Related Sectors (GAP-CC)/Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, in collaboration with Searca and the Regional Community Forestry Training Center (RECOFTC) in Thailand.

“The meeting sought to establish a climate proofing methodology at the regional level, which will be piloted for development plans and projects in the agriculture and forestry sectors to ensure food security,” Searca said in a statement.

Similar to the first training held at the Searca headquarters in Los Baños, Laguna, from September 3 to 5, the workshop-convention was based on the same module of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Policy Guidance “Integrating Climate Change Adaptation into Development Co-operation.” This was developed by GIZ GmbH in coordination with OECD, together with a host of reviewers from development agencies, nongovernment organizations and research institutions from around the world.

For the workshop in Bangkok, Dr. Chandra Silori of RECOFTC was invited to provide the overview on climate change, greenhouse effects, climate change impacts and adaptation to climate change. A number of forestry and farm experts from the region were also invited.

Southeast Asia is one of the regions in the world that will be badly affected by climate change, which could affect the region’s food security goals.

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