Fish sector to benefit thru ecofish

THE Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched on Wednesday, October 17, 2012, a joint-project which seeks to improve the management of Philippine coastal and marine resources.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, together with BFAR director Asis Perez and USAID’s Environment Chief Rolf Anderson, kicked-off the Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries or ECOFISH Project as part of the Philippine government’s efforts to conserve and replenish eight marine key biodiversity areas (MKBA) in the country.

The ECOFISH Project Sites map revealed the MKBA which includes Calamianes Group of Islands in Palawan, Lingayen Gulf in Pangasinan, Ticao Pass-Lagonoy Gulf-San Bernardino Strait in Bicol and Samar region, Danajon Double Barrier Reef in Bohol and Leyte, Southern Negros Occidental, Surigao, the Sulu archipelago and the Verde Island Passage in Batangas at Mindoro area.

The ECOFISH Project is designed to contribute to priority goals and actions laid out in the Philippine Development Plan (2011-2016) in the areas of sustainable agriculture and fisheries as well as in the conservation and rehabilitation of natural resources. It also supports the current U.S. Country Assistance Strategy with respect to assistance directed at reducing threats to biodiversity and improving natural resources and environment.

The 5-year project aims to improve the management of important coastal and marine resources and associated ecosystems that support local economies through biological diversity conservation, ecosystem productivity enhancement and restoration of fisheries profitability.

During the launch, Sec. Alcala announced that the P2013 fisheries budget was raised to P4.6 billion to enable BFAR to rebound and improve its performance.

Alcala stressed that part of the fund will be used to align methods and systems necessary to bring the sector back into shape.

In his keynote, Alcala said that a closed season sardines, herrings, and mackerels in the Visayas Sea will be enforced from November 15, 2012 – February 15, 2013 under the Fisheries Administrative Order 167.

“When there are more sardines in the ocean, tuna species tend to stay longer in our territorial seas which eventually results to bigger harvest,” he said.

According to Alcala, there are currently 36 local fishing vessels in the Pocket 1 of the Pacific Ocean.

He added that, “we are the only country allowed to fish in the area because we are the only country able to comply with international policies.”

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