Agriculture Secretary Proceso J Alcala highlighted BFAR's efforts towards fisheries conservation. (Photo: www.nafc.da.gov.ph)
US collaborates in fish conservation project
Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 02:50 (GMT + 9)
A new joint five-year project by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) will help protect and manage Philippine coastal and marine resources.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J Alcala said the Department of Agriculture (DA) is proposing a PHP 4.6 billion (USD 111 million) budget for the fishery sector under its 2013 national expenditure programme, so that BFAR can recover and sustain the country’s fishery production, conservation and competitiveness measures.
Alcala, BFAR Director Asis Perez and USAID Environment Chief Rolf Anderson together introduced the “Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries” or EcoFish, a project that seeks to safeguard and replenish eight of the country’s marine key biodiversity areas (MKBAs): Calamianes group of islands, in Palawan; Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan; Ticao Pass and Lagonoy Gulf, in Bicol region; San Bernardino Strait, in Leyte-Samar region; Danajon Double Barrier Reef, spanning Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Southern Negros Occidental, and Surigao; Sulu archipelago and Verde Island passage, in Batangas.
The project was designed to help achieve priority goals and actions described in the Philippine Development Plan (2011-16) in the areas of sustainable agriculture and fisheries and the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources. It also supports the US assistance strategy to reduce threats to biodiversity and further natural resources, PIA reports.
EcoFish also seeks to make the management of important coastal and marine resources better via biological diversity conservation, ecosystem productivity enhancement and restoration of fisheries profitability.
But Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) believes something is fishy about the Ecofish Project. The group argues that it will only promote country-wide fishing ban that will harm small fishers and even commercial fishing operators all over the Philippines – and that the ulterior motive is to reserve the resources for industrial fishing fleets, Business Mirror reports.
“While the purpose is to allow regeneration of fishery resources, its overriding objective is to make sure that First World industrial fishing fleets would continue to enjoy stable supply of fish in the near future,” Fernando Hicap, national chairman of Pamalakaya, said.
Meanwhile, Alcala said BFAR recently issued Fisheries Administrative Order No 167 as part of the government’s fish conservation policy, which imposes a closed season for sardines, herrings and mackerels in the Visayas Sea and Zamboanga peninsula, from 15 November 2012 to 15 February 2013, during species’ spawning season. The ban is meant to allow the fish to reproduce and propagate.
“When there are more sardines in the sea, tuna species are attracted and feed on them. This situation eventually results to bigger catch of both sardines and tuna,” he added.
- Sardine ban extended to Visayan Sea
By Natalia Real