Philippines steps up efforts on fish supply and food security

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is also secretary of the Department of Agriculture, leads the nation’s innovation in the department. PHOTO PCOO

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is leading the country’s innovation in the fishing industry to make it sufficient and safe, and to help alleviate the global food crisis.

Marcos, who is also Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA), said he was obsessed with fisheries issues and even asked for Indonesia’s help in boosting the agriculture industry, especially the agricultural sector. some fishing.

“I asked for help with fishing because I’m obsessed with importing galunggong or round scad from the Philippines. I can’t accept it. So I asked for help because the Indonesia has a strong fishing industry and we can exchange delegations,” he said.

BFAR OIC -Director Nestor Domenden CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

BFAR OIC -Director Nestor Domenden CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The country aims for a “Food Secure and Resilient Philippines with Thriving Farmers and Fishermen”, which is the theme of the 59th “Fish On” celebration of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR ). Fish Conservation Week is scheduled for September 12-16.

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The DA-BFAR presented its fishing sector catch-up plan to boost local production and minimize the need for fish imports this year.

BFAR’s OCI Director, Nestor Domenden, said: “With more fish aggregating devices in place for our fishermen and more seed stocks produced for the aquaculture sector , this remedial plan aims to unleash the hidden potentials of the office”.

The Marcos administration aims to ensure the sufficiency of fish in the country. The initiative will address the projected annual shortfall in food fish supply, estimated at 44,000 metric tonnes this year. This is more than 1% less than what is needed to reach full sufficiency.

Modernize fishing

BFAR focuses on innovation, modernization and intensification. The office is improving the design and expanding the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) in strategic fishing areas across the country. It will mechanize the irrigation water supply channels and have an aeration basin for fish farms. It will accelerate the development of a cold chain program in island municipalities to reduce post-harvest losses.

The office is also updating the national fish broodstock development program to include not only bangus but other high-value species such as rabbitfish, snappers, pompano, groupers and sea bass.

Rodolfo Vicerra, DA Undersecretary for Agro-Industrialization

Rodolfo Vicerra, DA Undersecretary for Agro-Industrialization

Domenden ordered the intensification of fingerling and fingerling production through the establishment of more hatcheries, which aims to boost local fingerling production, reduce the need for importing fingerlings, and reduce the cost of aquaculture production.

BFAR has also scaled up the Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa (BASIL) programme, under which more communal water bodies will be sustainably supplied with marketable fish species. The office will also optimize the operationalization of mariculture parks across the country.

Innovation in the fisheries sector will also be a priority through the promotion of urban aquaculture and unconventional production systems such as reservoirs, dams, small water retention basins, small agricultural reservoirs ( SFR) and natural fish ponds at ground level or raised, as well as the improvement of aquaculture. through the use of green energy.

The tuna industry continues to thrive

Domenden said the tuna industry has continued to deliver and contribute to the Philippine economy over the past few years despite various challenges.

“Despite the difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and other natural calamities, the evolution of the tuna industry continues to be successful,” he said.

This product maintains and commands varied demands, as fresh, chilled, frozen, smoked, dried and canned products remain the country’s top export commodity in 2020, with a collective volume of over 134,000 metric tons a value of 480 million dollars, a 12% increase in volume and 0.6% in value.

“Despite the achievement, BFAR is optimistic that the tuna industry can be further optimized, especially with the ease of Covid-19 restrictions and the country’s economic growth,” he said.

The DA-BFAR joined the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing and Allied Industries, Inc. (SFFAII) at the 22nd National Tuna Congress and Trade Expo themed “Braving Rough Seas Toward a Better Tomorrow”, held on 1st and September 2, 2022 at SM City in the city of General Santos.

Domenden highlighted the office’s flagship projects and initiatives aimed at further strengthening the tuna industry, such as the creation of the 12 Fisheries Management Areas (FMAs), the Integrated Marine Environment Monitoring System (IMES) and the fisheries observers.

The office continues to adhere to international commitments and has ensured strong representation and active participation in regional fisheries management organizations. It remains committed to pursuing the national tuna management plan.

Rodolfo Vicera, DA Undersecretary for Agro-Industrialization, said stronger partnerships between the wider tuna industry, local government units and national government will be more effective in helping and empowering small farmers and fishermen in the country.

He said, “The industry is the second largest exporter and producer of tuna in the world and General Santos City is the tuna capital of not only the Philippines but Southeast Asia.”

The PH remains sufficient for sardines

The sufficiency level for sardine or tamban is set at 222.58% for the first quarter of 2022 and 409.06% for the second quarter, based on current data from the Philippine Statistics Authority and DA-BFAR.

For this year, the DA-BFAR forecasts an annual production of 293,431 metric tons (MT), covering the national demand of 101,367 MT. The volume, which is entirely of local origin, comes from commercial and municipal fishermen, at 208,387 MT and 85,043 MT respectively.

Data from the National Stock Assessment Program of the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) showed that the sardine stock has improved significantly, resulting in more sardines reaching the maturity and appropriate size.

The stability of supply is attributed to the effective implementation of the National Sardine Management Plan, a five-year plan that harmonizes all sardine policies and programs, including conservation measures such as closed fishing seasons . Since its establishment in 2020, a notable improvement in production and supply has been recorded.

The Canned Sardine Association of the Philippines (CSAP) has called for the opening of municipal waters to commercial fishing vessels. The DA-BFAR explained that under Republic Act 10654 or the amended Philippine Fisheries Code, small and medium commercial fishing vessels may be permitted to operate within 10.1 to 15 kilometers of the shoreline in municipal waters, provided the local government unit issues a municipal ordinance. allowing them to operate.

As the primary government agency mandated to manage the nation’s fisheries and aquatic resources, the DA-BFAR remains firmly committed to increasing production and ensuring fish sufficiency through sustainable means and without compromising the ecological integrity of our aquatic environment. and sailor.

Seafood safety training

DA-BFAR provided seafood safety training to eight Pasay City Veterinarian’s Office staff in August. They received training from the Fisheries Post-Harvest Technology Division of DA-BFAR.

Trainees learned about regulations, food safety and good handling practices for fish and fish products for food safety officers and health workers. These trainings are key to mitigating food security issues in local wet markets, as well as strengthening partnerships and collaborative activities with local government units to ensure food security.

Meanwhile, this September is the annual celebration of Maritime and Archipelagic Nations Awareness Month (MANA Mo), which aims to address threats to the coastal ecosystem and biodiversity, as well as to continue common maritime and archipelagic pleas.

The DA-BFAR stands as one with the nation to ensure a pan-national approach aimed at achieving harmony and unity among Philippine maritime stakeholders by raising awareness in the country on various maritime issues and concerns.

The country is aiming for a “Food Secure and Resilient Philippines with Thriving Farmers and Fishermen,” which is the theme of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources’ 59th “Fish On” celebration.

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