MANILA – With the increased presence of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) and the Philippine Coast Guard in the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Filipino fisherfolk are able to continue their activities.
On Tuesday, DA-BFAR reported that over a hundred commercial fishing vessels are out fishing at the WPS since January 2021.
The data include 108 commercial fishing vessels from Bataan and Zambales, 20 from Pangasinan, 19 from Palawan, and two from Occidental Mindoro.
DA Secretary William Dar cited the large contribution to the country’s food security of resources from the WPS.
“Our increased presence in the area, through the DA-BFAR’s floating assets, is the Department of Agriculture’s way of ensuring that our fisherfolk are able to enjoy access to our fishery and aquatic resources in the WPS, while ensuring at the same time that these activities are within sustainable and rational means,” he said in a statement.
DA-BFAR currently has five Monitoring, Control, and Surveillance (MCS) vessels and one multi-mission offshore vessel at the Kalayaan Island Group, and one MCS vessel at the Bajo de Masinloc to provide assistance and protection.
The bureau shared that it also continuously provides necessary interventions to provinces and coastal communities facing WPS with programs like fisheries development and lectures on regulation and law enforcement.
Over PHP73 million worth of livelihood implements and technology projects have been turned over by BFAR-Region 1 to fisherfolk and other fisheries stakeholders in Pangasinan.
BFAR-Region 3, on the other hand, has been distributing fish aggregating device (payaos) and vessels to 14 local government units of Zambales since 2016.
From 2017 to 2019, BFAR-Mimaropa employed workers in the Kalayaan Island Group as data gatherers. Each received cash allowance and livelihood inputs such as fishing paraphernalia and boats.
BFAR-Mimaropa also turned over post-harvest facilities in Kalayaan, including a Community Fish Landing Center in 2020, and a cold storage facility which started construction last month. (PNA)